The 21st Century Phenomenon



Just 10 days after USA Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced the formation of a new Cyber-Command in the USA, on 06/26/2009, the necessity of such a command was proven beyond any doubt.

A cyber attack began on Saturday 07/04/2009, the USA Independence Day holiday, in USA, diverted to South Korea and continued to affect access to several sites well into Tuesday.

South Korea came under a sever cyber assault, probably the first of its kind in its extent, that has paralyzed the websites of major government agencies, banks and internet service providers. Many millions of computers were ordered and orchestrated by malicious viruses, planted in the computers by seemingly harmless e-mails, to surf simultaneously to specific designated websites.

“The attacks consisted of massive harmful traffic to specific sites causing access slowdown or disablement, and some national institutions, banks and media sites have been targeted,” South Korea’s Communications Commission said in a statement.

Ahn Jeong-eun, a spokeswoman for the government’s Korea Information Security Agency, said the attacks appeared to be linked to an ongoing and unusually resilient attack against government websites in the US, including sites for the US treasury and the Secret Service.

Ahn Jeong-eun said that initial investigations showed the attacks appeared aimed only at paralyzing access to the sites, which is relatively much easier, rather than hacking into secure networks or stealing information.

Some sites had returned to normal operation by midday on Wednesday 07/08/2009, although access to others, including the site of the South Korean president and defense ministry, remained unobtainable. There is some concern that the attack might renew on Thursday 07/09/2009 noon.
Last year, in the weeks leading up to the war between Russia and Georgia, Georgian government and corporate websites began to experience a sudden string of “denial of service” attacks (see – Georgia Crisis).

Russian government officials denied involvement, but after investigating domain names and website registration data, a group of independent Western computer experts concluded that the Russian security and military intelligence agencies were involved.

Mounting such an attack can be relatively easy, including for terror organizations of all kinds, using widely available hacking programs, but they can be made far more serious if hackers infect and use thousands of computers – often without owners’ knowledge – tied together into “botnets”.

Although it is not yet clear who is behind the latest cyber attack – the next one can be orchestrated by terrorists to paralyze emergency services or cause chaos in international air traffic or whatever.
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