The last several decades could be characterized by the rapid rise of technologies. They became an integral part of modern society as the bigger part of activities are performed using different devices. They double the efficiency of different processes and result in the digitalization of the environment. Today, there is hardly a person who has never used one or another digital device or who have never explored mediated means of communication.
However, the omnipresent character of technologies should be considered a two-edged weapon, as numerous security issues appear. The worlds dependence on technologies becomes threatening as there is no data that could not be found on the Internet. Additionally, digital devices regulate our lives, and the failure in their work also means the collapse of communities. For this reason, the question of digital security and cybercrime becomes topical.
Russian Denial-of-Service Attack on the Country of Estonia in 2007
Russian denial-of-service attack on the country of Estonia could be considered the first evidence of the existing threat that comes from technologies and demonstrates the high probability of cyberattacks. On April 27, the majority of Estonian organizations websites failed to work because of a well-planned cyberattack.
The accident was associated with the countrys intention to relocate the Bronze Soldier of Tallinn and elaborate war graves in the city (Kaiser, 2012).
It resulted in the conflict with Russia, which was considered one of the main initiators of this attack. As stated above, the denial-of-service cyberattack was chosen as a way to attract attention to the issue and corrupt websites of such important organizations like banks, social institutions, and Parliament (Kaiser, 2012).
The chosen tool helped to accomplish the task and demonstrate the vulnerability of Estonian cyberspace. In general, denial-of-service could be characterized as a certain websites failure to provide information to a user. There are several ways to organize the given attack; however, a victim suffers from collapse and inability to perform its main functions.
This event was one of the first scandals of this sort and triggered vigorous debates related to the unique importance of cybersecurity and measures to eliminate different vulnerabilities. Estonia also advocated for the enhanced cybersecurity protection and response protocol that would be able to minimize the probability of such attacks in the future (Kaiser, 2012).
Cyberattacks during the 2008 South Ossetia War between Georgia and Russia
Cyberattacks during the Russo-Georgian War became another event that attracted public attention. On 20 July 2008, the website of Georgian President became the main victim of hacker attacks, which resulted in its overloading and failure (Deibert, Rohozinski, & Crete-Nishihat, 2012).
However, these were just the first in a chain of actions that paralyzed a number of organizations websites and services. Since the first stages of the conflict, Russia had been accused of organizing these attacks to support its military campaign against Georgia and assure that organizations that covered events would fail to do it (Deibert et al., 2012).
Hackers also used the DoS attack to make network resources unavailable to its users by disrupting the services of a host (Deibert et al., 2012). For this reason, numerous requests to overload a website were sent and processed. In different periods of time, hackers used DoS attacks to disable various organizations. For instance, RIA Novosti news agency, Civil Georgia, ANS.azs websites were not able to cope with superfluous requests and had to reset.
These attacks demonstrate Georgias vulnerability and deteriorated results of its propaganda drive related to the conflict in Ossetia. The accident resulted in the cooperation between Estonia, as a country that has already experienced these attacks, and Georgia. Moreover, NATO countries also reconsidered their doctrines to devote more attention to the issue.
US State Department Compromised Computers in the East Asia Bureau in July 2006
The USA also experiences numerous cyberattacks every year. Some of them turn out to be successful. For instance, the US State Department suffered from a large-scale computer break. The East Asia Bureau responsible for relations with China and North Korea was hacked. Having investigated the case, the US Defense department proclaimed China one of the main suspects because of several reasons.
First, it remained one of the most interested actors. Second, the peculiarities of the digital footprint also indicated Chinas significant role in organizing these attacks. In May 2006, one of the workers received a Word document via email (Maness & Valeriano, 2015). It contained a virus that established backdoor communications outside the network used by the US State Department Bureau (Maness & Valeriano, 2015).
A Trojan was used to corrupt the system and create vulnerabilities. Using this approach, third parties obtained the opportunity to spy on the organization and steal secret information related to the financial aspect of some deals, security issues, etc.
In general, the given attempt could be considered successful as malefactors demonstrated the efficiency of their approach and stole important passwords used in secret correspondence (“Significant cyber incidents since 2006,” n.d.). The attack corrupted the US reputation greatly and introduced the necessity of the appropriate measures to eliminate the vulnerability and the probability of such attacks. As a result, the email is now checked as numerous viruses could be obtained in this way.
Need for Cyber Defense
The three above-mentioned case studies demonstrate the great threat that exists nowadays and proves the unique importance of cybersecurity and cyber defense mechanisms. Analyzing these accidents, one should admit hackers ability to find vulnerabilities and use them to block the functioning of a certain system.
Estonia and Georgia suffered from DoS attacks, which were extremely efficient in terms of poor cyber defense and states inability to provide an appropriate response to these actions (“Significant cyber incidents since 2006,” n.d.). US Bureau experienced more sophisticated attacks that were used because of the improved defense measures. However, hackers were able to find a vulnerability.
These accidents demonstrate the great need for an effective security system that will be able to stop hackers. It is also crucial to introduce an alternate protection system to decrease the probability of DoS attacks.
If a website is able to redirect the majority of requests to another server, it will remain stable. As for viruses that also could be used, the constant monitoring of all files a network obtains and an efficient firewall system could be considered crucial for cyber defense to be able to cope with a threat.
Altogether, the cases prove the appearance of a new threat that should not be disregarded. Hackers could use vulnerabilities to destroy a certain network or impact the functioning of various websites.
Moreover, nowadays, we could observe the beginning of cyberwar as DoS attacks, viruses, and other methods are used by states to achieve a certain purpose, spy on their enemies, destroy their communication systems, etc. Under these conditions, the introduction of an efficient cyber defense system becomes obvious as it is needed to protect states and citizens from being spied on and from losing their private information.
Deibert, R., Rohozinski, R., & Crete-Nishihat, M. (2012). Cyclones in cyberspace: Information shaping and denial in the 2008 Russia–Georgia war. Security Dialogue, 43(1), 3-24. doi:10.1177/0967010611431079
Kaiser, R. (2012). Reassembling the event: Estonia’s ‘bronze night’. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 30(6), 1046-1063. doi:10.1068/d18210
Maness, R., & Valeriano, B. (2015). The Impact of cyber conflict on international interactions. Armed Forces & Society, 42(2), 301-323. doi:10.1177/0095327X15572997
Significant cyber incidents since 2006. (n.d.).