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Estonia and Poland help Georgia stay online

Cyber allies join forces against Russia

Two Estonian computer experts were due to arrive in Georgia last night aiming to keep the country's networks running amid an intense military confrontation with Russia.

Poland has also helped: lending space on its president's web page for Georgia to post updates on its ongoing conflict with Russia, which launched a military campaign on Friday to eject Georgian troops from South Ossetia and Abkhazia, two renegade areas with strong ties to Russia.

The cooperation between the former Iron Curtain allies is aimed at blunting pro-Russian computer hackers, who have been blamed over the past few years for cyber attacks against Estonia, Lithuania and Georgia in incidents linked to political friction between those nations and Russia.

Two of the four experts that staff Estonia's Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) were waiting Tuesday morning in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, seeking permission to drive into Georgia, said Katrin Pärgmäe, communication manager for the Estonian Informatics Center. The two officials are also bringing humanitarian aid, she said.

Estonia is also now hosting Georgia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs webite, which has been under sustained attack over the past few days.

"Let's just say we moved it," Pärgmäe said.

"I know that there are interested parties who read media so it's not good to say exactly where the hosting is."

The website for Georgia's president, Mikheil Saakashvili, remained up on Tuesday morning. That site was knocked offline around mid-July after a DDOS attack from a botnet, network experts said.

The botnet was based on the "MachBot" code, which communicates to other compromised PCs over the HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol), the same protocol used for transmitting Web pages. MachBot code has been known to be used by Russian bot herders, according to the Shadowserver Foundation, which tracks malicious internet activity.

Shadowserver said Monday that hackers had at one point defaced the website for Georgia's parliament. "The attackers have inserted a large image made up of several smaller side-by-side images of pictures of both the Georgian President and Adolf Hitler," the group wrote.


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