On March 20, 2019, Georgia and World released an article headlined “U.S. Innovations in the Sphere of Information Warfare.” The author of the article claims that Dmitri Alperovitch, senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, is the only source referred to by the U.S. media when covering the issues of Russia’s cyberattacks and hybrid warfare.
The article released by Georgia and World contains disinformation, because besides Dmitri Alperovitch and the Atlantic Council, Russia’s cyberattacks are confirmed by a number of international organizations, including the Alliance for Securing Democracy, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Center for Security Studies at ETH Zürich. The publications and reports released by these organizations cover all cyberattacks and information campaigns carried out by Russia against many countries in the world, including Georgia.
According to the data of the Alliance for Securing Democracy, in 2007-2018, Russia carried out 85 cyberattacks in 26 countries. The developed western countries, like Germany and France, as well as post-Soviet countries, among them Estonia, Georgia and Ukraine became the targets of attacks.
Russia’s cyberattacks against Georgia
According to the Alliance for Securing Democracy, one out of six cyberattacks carried out by Russia against Georgia took place on July 18-20, 2008, shortly before the start of the Russian-Georgian war. The President of Georgia’s website experienced an attack that was executed by a botnet and managed to take the site down for a day. The type of botnet and registration for the server were connected to Russia.
Cyberattacks against Georgia continued simultaneously to August 2008 war. In August, after the invasion by the Russian forces, cyberattacks were conducted against Georgian media, communication and transport companies. A photo of 20th century dictators appeared on the web-sites of public agencies.
A group of computer researchers from the USA said they have clear evidence that St. Petersburg-based criminal gang known as the Russian Business Network, or R.B.N. was behind the attacks, as the attackers used the same tools as R.B.N.
A year after the August 2008 war, Russian hackers shut down Twitter and Facebook in Georgia.
Russia’s cyberattack against Estonia
According to a famous book “Understanding Cyber Conflict” by Stephen Blank, senior fellow at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Russia carried out its first widespread cyberattack against Estonia in 2007, after the Estonian government moved a statue commemorating the Soviet Union’s liberation of Estonia in World War II. For several weeks, Estonia’s essential information and computer technology infrastructure: banks, telecommunications, media outlets, and name servers were systematically attacked by Russian hackers.
Cyberattack against Ukraine by CyberBerkut affiliated with Russia’s military intelligence
According to the report released by the Center for Security Studies at ETH Zürich, on March 18, 2014, CyberBerkut, a group of hackers, attacked regional TV of Rivne in Western Ukraine. The same report notes that CyberBerkut supports separatist groups in Eastern Ukraine. The Wall Street Journal reported that a self-proclaimed independent hacker group CyberBerkut is affiliated with Fancy Bear, a group of hackers having ties with Russian Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU).
Russia’s cyberattack against Germany
Over the past years, Germany has become a target of Russia’s cyberattacks for several times. One of them took place in June 13, 2017, when Germany’s BfV domestic intelligence agency said that Russian hackers launched a widespread cyberattack on German energy providers. Germany’s intelligence agency claimed that Russia was probably behind the attack.
Russia’s cyberattack against France
On May 5, 2017, hackers launched a coordinated cyberattack targeting the frontrunner of the French presidential race, Emmanuel Macron, two days before the election. The hackers released online tens of thousands of Macron campaign documents and emails, some of which were forged. Cybersecurity research firms Trend Micro and Flashpoint linked the attack to Fancy Bear, a group of hackers having ties with GRU.
About Georgia and World
The founder of the newspaper Georgia and World and its online edition www.geworld.ge is Historical Heritage Ltd. The establishment of Historical Heritage in 2009 was publicly welcomed by then President of Russia, Dmitry Medvedev. One of the members of the public council of Historical Heritage is Aleksandre Chachia, a political analyst whom Dmitry Medvedev awarded an order in July 2008 for “great contribution to friendship and cooperation with the Russian Federation.” Another pro-Russian NGO, Eurasian Institute, is also a partner of Historical Heritage. Along with anti-Western sentiments, the publication is notorious for its Turkophobic, racist and homophobic content.
Prepared by Giorgi Loladze
Myth Detector Lab