War in Georgia Goes Cyber

A follow-up to Hans Bader’s informative post on the Russia-Georgia war:

Ars reports that the war is going on in cyberspace as well. Russian hackers are taking down Georgia’s official websites – and now internet access. According to Ars:

Russia’s actual physical invasion of Georgia has garnered much of the headline space devoted to the two countries, but the conflict is playing out online as well. Attacks against the Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili’s website first occurred in late July, but gathered relatively little attention. Security investigators from the United States Computer Response Readiness Team (US-CERT) monitored the attacks, and stated that they did not appear to be a test run for a major assault.

Whether those attacks and the current situation are directly linked or not, the same group may be ultimately responsible for both. The blog RBNExploit claims to be functioning as an unofficial news branch of the Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and has released a server routing map it claims demonstrates evidence of Russian malfeasance.

So far, the information coming out of Georgia has been garbled. CNN reports uncertainty regarding how many Russian jets have been shot down, and some confusion regarding both military and civilian casualties. If Russia (or the RBN acting on behalf of Russia) is behind the systemic lockdown of Georgian Internet access, it may mark the first time a government has simultaneously deployed military and cybermilitary assets in an attack on another country. In terms of keeping the rest of the world guessing at what, exactly, may be going on, the strategy seems to have worked.