Georgian invasion mirrored in cyberspace

There have been extravagant claims that the Russo-Georgian struggle over South Ossettia is being mirrored in cyberspace, by the BBC and others.

The BBC says that Russian and Georgian internet users have attacked websites each other's countries and there are claims that several Georgian government portals have been interfered with or shut down.

For example, Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili briefly appeared on his won website looking like Hitler. Georgian hackers have apparently altered Russian news organisations' reporting of the situation in over South Ossettia.

In fact there appears to be very little evidence indeed about who's doing what to whom or any conclusive proof that the attacks are hacktivism - mass action taken at grassroot level.

There has been huge publicity surrounding Slate.com's Evgeny Morozov enlisting as a Russian cybersoldier but little seems to have come of it.

And when Estonia's entire banking network collapsed, stuck by a denial of service attack in April 2007, it was commonplace to assume it was perpetrated by Russians, in  retaliation for the defacing of a Russian soldier's memorial in Tallinn, commerating his death fighting the Nazis. Conclusive proof is lacking.

Whether the attacks are the result of hacktivism, government-sponsored hacking or cyber-hooligans who will use any excuse to have a go (just like those who transform protests into riots in the real world), the point is, where there is weakness on the web, it will be exploited.

We have been warned.

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