Sometimes an event happens at the far corner of your vision that has huge implications but you’re too busy to really focus on its importance. The recent cyber attack on key Estonian web sites fits that bill. The web sites of banks, the media, the Parliament and foreign and defense offices came under heavy “denial-of-service” attack by groups of computers around the world that swamped them with external requests..
Estonia is a country that lives on the net. Everything, from voting to banking is done on the web. So this was a very, very serious matter. The Estonian government points the finger at Moscow. Instructions on how to launch denial-of-service attacks were all over Russian-language web sites weeks before the attack. They started appearing just before a Soviet War Memorial was taken down, setting off ethnic Russian riots in Estonia.
But the hackers could simply have been individuals, either prompted by Moscow or acting on their own. In this age of stateless terrorism, it may be impossible to find out.
This isn’t the very first cyber attack of its kind. There was one between India and Pakistan and another from South Korea that hit US servers in 2002.
We all live our lives online today—and we are all vulnerable. We blithely put our most personal information online. And most of our transactions take place online.
Digitalizing the world connects us more closely but also makes us more vulnerable. This is one event on the corner of our vision we should ponder seriously. Check out these comments by Jose Nazario, a security reseacher at Arbor Networks.