A History Timeline of Russian Cyberattacks: 2007-2016
It's been about three months since the war in Ukraine began, but this isn't new for Putin and his cronies. This blog looks at Russia's long, rich history in the 21st century regarding attacks in the cyber world, focusing on attacks between 2007 and 2016.
April - May 2007:
In 2007, Estonia, a country under Russian control until 1991, had plans to move a Russian WWII memorial dedicated to the many Soviet soldiers. The Kremlin decided to disable Estonia's internet service in what they saw as a tit-for-tat response. The Russians applied a DDoS attack (distributed denial of service), annihilating all financial activities and communication capabilities.
Over one year later, Lithuania was the Kremlin's next victim. Russian hackers breached Lithuanian government webpages, adding the sickle and hammer with a five-point star everywhere. In this situation, Lithuania, which used to also be under Russian control, was working on outlawing all the former Soviet Union symbols.
A couple of months later, Georgia's pro-Western government ordered troops to a Moscow-backed area of the country, hoping to reclaim this territory. The Russians sent a barrage of land, sea, and air divisions to destroy these efforts effectively. Georgia's internet was attacked and offline, essentially shutting the country down.
Russia's neighbor, Kyrgyzstan, was home to a US military base, which infuriated the Russian elites in Moscow. Thanks to the Kremlin, the Kyrgyzstan president's two options were removing all US military bases or having an indefinite internet blackout across the country.
In the end, a $2 billion loan from the Kremlin to Kyrgyzstan once all US military personnel were gone.
A popular media outlet from Kazakhstan released a statement by the nation's president openly criticizing the Kremlin and Russian leadership. An all-out DDoS attack ensued, shutting down that specific media agency and many others throughout the neighboring country.
Russian state hackers successfully shut down Twitter and Facebook in Georgia to commemorate Russia's invasion anniversary and suppress criticism.
Five years later, Russian state hackers coordinated complex military and cyber-focused attacks on Crimea in Ukraine. These attacks resulted in DDoS attacks 32x more extensive than those in 2009, leading to the capture of the peninsula and a complete internet disruption.
Just three days before the Ukrainian federal election, Russian state hackers took down the country's commission in an overnight cyberattack.
Reports show that even though the commission's backup systems were put offline, on the plus side, Ukrainian computer experts could restore everything one day before the election.
Top German investigators found that Russian hackers successfully breached a nationwide computer network for the German Bundestag, the National German Parliament.
As one of the most devastating hacks in German history, the BfV, the national intelligence agency for Germany, investigated. They found that Russians sought sensitive information on German and NATO leaders.
Russian hackers took control of a Ukrainian power station, effectively locking personnel out of their systems and leaving over 235,000 homes without any power or heat.
The US saw one of its most terrifying attacks by the Russians, the Democratic party computers were compromised, and the personal emails of many notable officials fell into the wrong hands.
This delicate information found its way to global media outlets with the help of WikiLeaks. These leaks killed Hillary Clinton's chances of winning the 2016 presidential election, helping to undermine her credibility.
The Dutch government found that Russian state hackers attempted an audacious campaign to steal all files of Flight MH17, shot down by Russia over Ukraine.
The Dutch Safety Board spearheaded an investigation into the downing of Malaysian Airlines, resulting in a confirmed conclusion that the attack was indeed Russian, without a doubt.
A Finnish security company stated they believe that a cyberattack on Finland's Foreign Ministry occurred several years earlier by Russian state-sponsored hackers.
In December 2016, Germany's BfV head, Hans Georg Maasen, spoke of the strong possibility of foreign powers looking to influence their upcoming election the following year, hinting that Russia had something in the works.
Maasen reiterated that he and other experts believed the Russians sought to besmirch Merkel and other German politicians.
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