Syria drama and impact on cyberspace

Pierluigi Paganini February 07, 2012

The situation in Syria aroused much concern in the world because it could trigger, in a highly unstable, a conflict that many have tended to avoid. The world, today unarmed, is witnessing a fierce crackdown led by President Bashar al-Assad, a massacre against an opposition that wants the removal of what is considered a dictator regime which granted the permission to kill with impunity. Order executed without hesitation, hundred of protesters killed in the city of Homs, and yesterday At Homs, the bombing started again. Images and videos published on the web and also spread by AFP demonstate that it is bombing civilians. Immediate condemnation from the international community, U.S. in the lead, who expressed profound disagreement with the government of Damascus, who presented a resolution to the UN Security Council. Immediate disconcerting response of Russia and China that have vetoed the same resolution.

The Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has harshly accused who “prevents the world to condemn the violence” and has pointed out against Moscow which “could not be a constructive dialogue.” There is a real risk that Syria precipitate a civil war.

Made this tragic premise is also appropriate to ask what are the consequences in cyberspace and what balances have been put into question in this scenario.
We are learning as a cyber threat is offensive like a military attack and then in a context like the one we are considering would be wrong not to consider a further possible source of attacks.

Cyberspace and the real world are closely linked, an unbreakable thin thread, to be analyzed carefully to understand each other’s evolution.
On days when the protest was started in Syria an hacker based out of Saudi Arabia named Salman Al Anzi announced to have hacked the private email account of Syrian president Bashar Al Assad containg disturbing revelations. The Hacker threatened to reveal the content of emails and also other information retrieved from other governative email account hacked. According to Al Madina newspaper , the hacker has asked to Bashar Al Assad to stop the massacre immediately and give up power.

In those email could be documented as well as electoral fraud also received support from the Iranian government in the nation driving.
The alliance between Syria and Iran is not a mistery and it has had significant impact in Middle East politics. Cooperation between Syria and India increased after the ouster of Saddam Hussein, their mutual enemy. But the the U.S. military victory also initially raised fears that either Iran or Syria might be the next target in the future U.S. administration.

United States and Israel have always been bitter enemies of the two governments and the recent cyber esclation in Middle East is only the last demonstration in order of time. Syria and Iran are the two parties most responsible for spoiling peace efforts between the Arabs and Israel.

The response to the Soviet resistance to proposed UN sanctions against Damascus is immediately came, Syrian hackers have conducted several operations against central governments infrastructures. Russia is also responsible to willingness to sell weapons to the Syrian government, which has been accused of killing thousands of civilians.

Let’s remember that during the Arab Spring in Syria, the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA), an organization that operates with at least tacit support of the government, claims responsibility for several attacks to those websites that it contends spread news hostile to the Syrian regime. SEA disseminates denial of service (DoS) software designed to target media websites including those of Al Jazeera, BBC News, Syrian satellite broadcaster Orient TV, and Dubai-based al-Arabia TV.

The Syria has always held in high regard the potential of new media technologies and the failure to manage risks, and the proof is that in Syria on June 3 has used an internet “kill switch” to shut down the country’s Internet network. The country’s 3G, DSL and dial-up were disconnected the same day massive protests.

In addition to the usual skirmishes between hackers not to be overlooked are the operations of groups of hacktivist which are organizing on the web to retaliate against governments guilty of mass murder and to make decisions to support genocide.
We consider that similar movements may have genesis of spontaneous but may also be instigated and supported by agencies wishing to address the dreaded groups against rogue states. Anonymous groups may stand as politically forces against nations such as Russia and China and with what results?

Cyberspace is comparable to a stormy sea in which you navigating in sight and where the scenarios are changing rapidly in an unpredictable way by the presence of uncontrolled entities such as groups of hackers and cyber hacktivists in addition to cyber armies set up by the main world powers.
Other alert signals comes from social media, particularly from social networks who are being attacked by opponents of the regime, but probably also from militants near Damascus.

It has been observed that percentage of the comments in Arabic, Russian and English that expressed gratitude to Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin such as one from user Hamoud Youssef: “A heartfelt thank you to Russia. … Thank you for the veto.”
The comments seems to be posted by syrian users, but the high number of identical entriss suggests that an automated tool has been used for the purpose.
Once again the social network monitoring has become an integral part of a cyber strategy led by governments to control the overall sentiment and targeted campaigns of misinformation.

For which reasons Russia and China opposed the UN?
Money is the main motivation for many experts, the same recall that in December Russia agreed to sell 36 Yakovlev-130 trainer-fighter airplanes to the Syrian government in a $550 million contract. The sale is not the sole, it has been documented a continuous flow of weapons between Russia and Syria.

Another important reason is the consolidation of an axis that opposes to Western policy in the Middle East, Syria is an important bulwark in this sense, a strategic reference that China and Russia do not want to lose.
The enemy of my enemy .. is my friend.

Pierluigi Paganini

Real Time Update

Just a few seconds after the publication of the post, as good oracle, I have read about
LulzSec hacks were Syrian security, accounts dumps

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