Several NATO websites have been attacked by a hacktivist group which calls itself “cyber berkut” and is believed to be made of Ukrainian hackers who wish to boycott the agency’s involvement in Crimea. The attacks which aimed at the agency also targeted the Russian presidency, the Russian Foreign Ministry and Russian Channel One’s websites. Although it is believed that the hackers are Ukrainian, the message which appeared on its own website was in Russian and warned the agency to back out. On Sunday morning, the alliance’s homepage was still inactive.
Several public websites belonging to the alliance, along with an affiliated cyber security center in Estonia were forced offline by a denial-of-service attack just in time for Crimea’s independence referendum. Although the identity or nationality of the hackers remains unidentified, the hacktivist group calls itself CyberBerkut, after the Ukrainian riot police responsible for the strike on anti-Russian protesters in Kiev, which could mean that Ukrainian hackers attacked NATO websites. Oana Lungescu, the alliance’s spokeswoman, tweeted that neither the integrity of the agency’s systems nor the operational structure have been affected. However, the problems persist and, today, Lungescu stated that the intrusion is “still ongoing,” but the majority of the services have been restored.
Warnings Target the Alliance
Although none of its vital systems were compromised and Lungescu did not want to comment on the origin of the attack, the Ukrainian hacktivist group CyberBerkut has already claimed responsibility for attacking three NATO websites through DDoS attacks, which occur when hackers overload the servers of a website by flooding it with requests from numerous systems.
Hackers posted a message on the group’s website in which they banned NATO from entering their “homeland.” The statement also mentioned that the alliance is working with the “Kiev junta” and is trying to block information with regard to “the actions of criminals who call themselves ‘the lawful authorities.'”
CyberBerkut was as clear as possible when it told the agency to “get away from Ukrainian land.”
Today, Crimea holds a referendum in order to separate from Ukraine and join Russia, but NATO states have opposed the move, because the gesture is considered unconstitutional.
Apparently, a Ukrainian group attacked numerous Ukrainian websites lately, but it is yet unclear whether the attack on the alliance was conducted by the same group, which is believed to be affiliated with Russian intelligence.
Cyberattacks Do Not Spare Russia
Although a hacktivist group attacked NATO websites and one continues to be offline, the agency is not the only target; Russian government websites and media were also under attack. On Friday, unidentified hackers brought down the Russian presidency’s website and the web page of the Central Bank.
A Kremlin spokeswoman stated that “a powerful cyber-attack” blocked the Kremlin’s website temporarily, and the Russian Foreign Ministry’s website fell as well. A “massive network attack” also aimed at media channels and, although the systems’ integrity was not touched, all the websites became unavailable. The latest websites to be attacked by hacktivist groups belong to NATO, and although experts are trying to solve the problem, one of the websites has still not recovered.
By Gabriela Motroc