Russian Cyber Attack on Georgia: Lessons Learned?


Since people always have wide ranging opinions, there are always contraians. With regard to cybersecurity, there are those who place cybersecurity events in a category called a, "weapon of mass disruption" rather than distruction. This line of reasoning states that an attack that takes the power off-line for a few days may be an inconvenience but it shouldn't be considered a top priority for national security. I do not subscribe to this thesis at all. Rather, I agree with many others that a well executed cybersecurity event could be devastating -- especially if it is used in conjunction with a physical attack. According to the brainiacs at non-profit U.S. Cyber Consequences Unit, this is exactly what happened when Russia invaded Georgia last August. It seems that 54 web sites in Georgia related to communications, finance, and the government were attacked by rogue elements within Russia. The bad guys weren't working for the Russian government or military but it is safe to say that there had to be some complicity here. So as tanks and troops were crossing the border and bombers were flying sorties, Georgian citizens could not access web sites for information and instructions. Yikes! From a U.S. perspective, imagine a 9/11 or Hurricane Katrina event if citizens had no idea what to do, emergency responders couldn't communicate, and utilities were cut off in a 200 mile radius outside of the disaster zone. This is the risk. I really hope that the good work done by the U.S. Cyber Consequences Unit with regard to Russia and Georgia prompts some action in Washington. We've heard plenty of talk but the lack of real action is becoming more and more concerning.

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