SecurityWorkspace

Nato Websites Attacked By ‘Ukranian Patriots’

Tom Brewster is TechWeek Europe's Security Correspondent. He has also been named BT Information Security Journalist of the Year in 2012 and 2013.

Various Nato sites hit with DDoS attacks< days before the controversial referendum/p>

A host of Nato websites were attacked the day before the controversial referendum  in which Crimea appears to have voted to leave Ukraine and become part of Russia.

A group calling itself Cyber Berkut claimed responsibility for the distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks on the main Nato website, the Nato Parliamentary Assembly and the organisation’s Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence. Berkut was the name of the riot squads used  by former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich.

Cyber attackNato attacked

It appears the Berkut group sympathises with Yanukovich and the old regime. “Those who favour Ukrainian independence and closer ties with the EU would have no reason to attack Nato. Cyber Berkut, as it turns out, doesn’t belong to that group,” said Jeffrey Carr,  author of Inside Cyber Warfare and founder of security firm Taia Global, in a blog post.

“They are staunch supporters of the former President Viktor Yanukovych who fled to Russia last month and they hate Yulia Tymoshenko who was freed from prison on Feb 22. Cyber Berkut has also called for the release of 70 Pro-Russian activists and Governor Pavel Gubarev in the city of Donetsk.”

A Nato spokesperson said over Twitter the attacks started on Saturday evening and continued through to Sunday morning. It’s unclear whether Cyber Berkut was responsible, due to the difficulties of attribution.

One of the attacked Nato sites was carrying a message from Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, which suggested the referendum was illegal.

Digital tensions surrounding the situation in Ukraine were exacerbated in March by a number of attacks, yet experts have been loth to suggest it amounted to cyber warfare.  Various DoS attacks reportedly hit Ukranian sites, including one belonging to the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine.

Ukraine’s Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) told TechWeekEurope it had been dealing with a range of attacks.

What do you know about IT in Russia? Take our quiz!