SecureWorks researcher Don Jackson bolsters the argument that the Russian government played a role in the cyber-attacks that broke out during its invasion of Georgia. Research by SecureWorks has uncovered a link between Russian state-run networks and the cyber-attacks that hit Georgia during the recent military clashes over the disputed territory of South Ossetia.
A security researcher claims to have uncovered evidence suggesting
a link between the Russian government and the cyber-attacks launched
The cyber-attacks started as Georgian and Russian military units fought
over the disputed territory of South
Ossetia. The fighting started after Georgia
sent troops into the breakaway region that it claims is part of its territory.
Don Jackson, director of threat intelligence at SecureWorks, said in an
interview with eWEEK there may have been multiple forces pulling
the digital strings behind the attacks. According to Jackson,
incident responders in Georgia
supplied logs showing traffic to and from bots on their own networks with
command and control IP addresses that are in ranges that belong to
state-operated companies for which no previous record of activity of any kind
"We know that the Russian government controls those servers
theoretically, if they have not been 'pwned' by somebody else," Jackson
According to SecureWorks, most of the changes in routing information that
block traffic to Georgian IP address space were carried out by government-run
Rostelecom and the Moscow-based Comstar network. Those networks were also the
launch points for DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks and cache
poisoning attempts targeting DNS servers for major Georgian networks, as were
parts of Turkish networks controlled by members of the RBN, the company said.
"I can only say I see a strong correlation with the types and patterns
of activity of DDoS and the strong, very suspicious timing of the attacks ...
[it's] either one of the most coincidental mass cyber-attacks I've ever seen,
or there's been some sort of cooperation on some level," Jackson said.
Other aspects of the attacks the company observed involving actors on both
Russian state-run and RBN-controlled foreign
networks include compromise of servers, multifactor DDoS attacks on network and
application layers, and the hosting of spoofed Georgian Web pages with
misinformation and propaganda.
SecureWorks' findings, if true, shed new light on the cyber-attacks that
have made headlines in the past few days. Several
have cautioned against jumping to conclusions about who is
responsible for the attack. In an e-mail exchange with eWEEK, noted security
professional and author Gadi
said there are strong indications that the attacks were launched by
"While [cyber-war] seems to be the current
buzzword [and] is overblown over certain incidents, the risk of information
warfare is real as has been seen before in targeted attacks for espionage
purposes, and in the devastating infrastructure attack against Estonia,"