Crimea – Is Russia adopting the same cyber strategy used in Georgia?

Pierluigi Paganini March 05, 2014

Experts that are monitoring the escalation of tension in Crimea recognized a military strategy similar to the one adopted in Georgia (2008)

The approval of Russian Parliament for military use in Crimea has triggered a series of events in the cyber space, groups of hacktivists, cyber criminals and of course state-sponsored hackers started their campaign against the enemies. Ukraine’s mobile phone infrastructure is under attack: with equipment installed in Russian-controlled Crimea interfering with the phones of members of parliament, a senior Ukrainian government official alleges.

As happened during the invasion of Georgia in 2008, Russian militias also engaged an Information warfare against the enemies to prepare the scenario for a kinetic attack.

Ukraine’s mobile phone infrastructure is under a massive attack originated in Crimea that is interfering with the phones of members of parliament. The head of Ukraine’s SBU security service during a press conference confirmed that the country is suffering a serious attack in last two days.

“I confirm that an IP-telephonic attack is under way on mobile phones of members of Ukrainian parliament for the second day in row,” declared Valentyn Nalivaichenko according Reuters reports.

Ukraine’s telecommunications system has come under attack, the attackers used an equipment installed within Ukrtelecom networks in the Crimea region under the control of Russian forces. The equipment is blocking the phones of Nalivaichenko and his deputies.

“At the entrance to (telecoms firm) Ukrtelecom in Crimea, illegally and in violation of all commercial contracts, was installed equipment that blocks my phone as well as the phones of other deputies, regardless of their political affiliation,” “The security services are now seeking to restore at least the security of communications,” according to the security chief. “All state information security systems were unprepared for such a brazen violation of the law.” Nalivaichenko said.

The attack is not isolated, internet connections within the peninsula of Crimea have been severely hampered. Not yet identified militias have seized the offices of telecommunications service provider Ukrtelecom cutting phone and Internet cables. Militia set up roadblocks to isolate Crimea from the rest of the Ukraine.

Security experts believe that the mission for Russian military is to isolate the region, for this reason Russian naval vessels were directed to the port at Sevastopol, the units are carrying jamming equipment to block radio communications. Ukrainian naval communications stations around the area of Sevastopol and power lines have been already sabotaged.

On the internet numerous website were already attacked, two government websites in Crimea were shut down for unknown reasons, while also Russian entities were hacked, it is the case of the website of the principal Russian news agency, Russia Today.

With the escalation of tensions in Crimea also the number of cyber attacks will sensibly increase, there is the concrete risk that other critical infrastructure in the country will be impacted. The observation of events in the cyberspace could give analysts a more detailed picture of ongoing events in Crimea.

Pierluigi Paganini

(Security Affairs –  Crimea, Information Warfare)

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