Global Insights: Russia Refines Cyber Warfare Strategies

Global Insights: Russia Refines Cyber Warfare Strategies

The U.S. Cyber-Consequences Unit has recently issued a report documenting how Russia supplemented its conventional war against Georgia last August with a massive, well-integrated and pre-planned information warfare campaign against Georgia's Internet structure. The techniques were so successful that the unit has restricted distribution of the full report to U.S. government and certain other Internet security professionals. Only the executive summary (pdf) has been made available to the public.

The U.S. Cyber-Consequences Unit is independent, non-profit research institute affiliated with the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. The report's main author, John Bumgarner, directs research at the unit. He and his team conducted a year-long investigation of the Russian campaign using a variety of sources, including monitored Internet traffic, Web site caches, and debriefings of Georgian victims.

According to the report, from Aug. 7 to Aug. 16, 2008, Russian citizens and their sympathizers launched a coordinated offensive that disabled dozens of important Georgian websites, including those of the country's president and defense minister, as well as the National Bank of Georgia and major news outlets. Initially, the main targets were the Internet pages of the country's main government institutions and new media, which would have played a central role in informing the Georgian public and the international community of the Russian attack. The target list subsequently expanded to include other government and media sites as well as Georgian business, education, and financial institutions. The combined effect of these attacks was to degrade the effectiveness of Georgia's national response to the Russian attack.

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