The World’s First Cyber War

Last month the Estonian government chose to remove a statue of a World War II soldier. The government expected a harsh backlash by Estonian citizens of Russian decent. Estonian citizens use the internet for everything including paying taxes, paying for parking, and even shopping. Some of these things are also done using their cell phones. If anything happened to the network infrastructure in Estonia then it would be devastating to the small Baltic country.
Such a thing did happen this week. In what many computer security experts are considering the first ever cyber war in history, the Estonian networks were attacked with a denial of service attack. The Estonian government claims that the attack was delivered by the Russian government. If the Estonian government is right, then that attack would be the first time a country attacked another country over the internet. The attack lasted over the course of a month.

The Estonian government insists that the internet address involved in the attacks belonged to an official working with the administration of Russian president Vladimir Putin. The Russian government denies any involvement in the attack.

The attacks nearly shut down the Estonian network infrastructure and clogged the websites of the president, prime minister, Parliament, and other government agencies along with other important websites. Estonia’s biggest bank was nearly taken down by the attack as well as several daily newspapers.

Computer security experts from NATO, the European Union, Israel, and the United States have offered help to Estonia and to learn about the new face of war that took place on the Estonian government.

The first attack started at 10 p.m. on April 26. The Estonian government was expecting a backlash from when they removed the statue so they had set up additional firewalls and protections around key government websites as well as setting up extra servers as a precaution. In one of the first attacks, a flood of spam emails were thrown at the e-mail server for the Parliament which shut it down. In yet another attack, hackers infiltrated the website of the Reform party and posted a fake letter of apology from the prime minister. The attacks are still ongoing on the Estonian networks. Computer security experts believe that the majority of the attacks are over. Most of the current attacks are on Estonian banks. Estonian security experts are currently working to repair the damage done in the world’s first cyber war.

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