Georgia-Russia conflict (2008)
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|Date||During the Russian-Georgian conflict throughout July-August 2008|
|Suspected actor||The Georgian authorities accused Russia of the attack, but the Russian government denied the allegations but admitted that it was possible that "individuals in Russia or elsewhere had taken it upon themselves to start the attacks". However, multiple experts found hints that the attacks were launched by a group known as the 'Russian Business Network' that has close ties to the Russian government.|
|Target||A number of government websites was targeted. The website of the Georgian President was taken down and then later defaced. The websites of the Georgian Parliament, of the Foreign Affairs Ministry, the Ministry of Defence as well as those of several Georgian news agencies and commercial entities were taken down.|
|Method||The websites were brought offline as the result of the DDos attacks on the servers. Other websites were defaced showing images comparing the Georgian President with Adolf Hitler. The sites of several news agencies were also under external control facing disruptions and showing different content than intended.|
|Purpose||The cyber attacks were seen as part of Russia's warfare in the armed conflict between the two countries. Whilst the cyber attacks were not decisive for the outcome of the armed conflict, the position of the Georgian government was significantly weakened and created the time and space for Russia to shape the international narrative of the conflict.|
|Result||During the conflict, the Georgian sites were temporarily available as their traffic was re-reouted through German servers run by Deutsche Telekom. However, the communication in the country was severely disrupted. The attack significantly restricted the government’s ability to react by spreading its message online and to connect with foreign governments around the world during the fighting with Russia.|
|Aftermath||After the events in Estonia, this incident is often cited as one of the first examples where offensive cyber attacks were part of synchronized kinetic military operations.|
|Analysed in||Scenario 13: Cyber operations as a trigger of the law of armed conflict|
- J Markoff, "Before the gunfire, cyberattacks", (12 August 2008), The New York Times.
- S Gorman, "Georgia States Computers Hit By Cyberattack", (12 August 2008), The Wall Street Journal.
- J Swaine, "Georgia: Russia 'conducting cyber war' ", (11 August 2008), The Telegraph.
- D Danchev, "Coordinated Russia vs Georgia cyber attack in progress", (11 August 2008), ZDNet.
- R Synovitz, "Georgian Government Accuses Russia Of Waging 'Cyberwarfare' ", (12 August 2008), RFE/RL.
- S P. White, "Understanding Cyberwarfare: Lessons from the Russia-Georgia War", (20 March 2018), Modern War Institute.
- G Keizer, "Cyberattacks knock out Georgia's Internet presence", (11 August 2008), Computerworld.
- N Popescu, S Secrieru (eds), "Hacks, leaks and disruptions - Russian Cyber Strategies", (October 2018), European Union Institute for Security Studies.
- M Connell, S Vogler, "Russia’s Approach to Cyber Warfare", (24 March 2017), CNA.