The potential of Russia to invade Ukraine is red hot news. Experts speculate the first wave of attacks from Russia will be “cyber attacks” which I really had to do some research on this topic. Computers have always had some vulnerability to outside interference. What changed in the last two decades, is that everything is very interconnected, so the network security has real vulnerabilities. It really is machine verses machine, but because humans both code software to attack network servers and to defend them, it is all about people in countries openly violating international norms supported by their government.
A website can be flooded with requests and this can cause time-outs, or denial of service (DoS). It happened to me when I was trying to get an appointment for the first Covid vaccine. This was unintentional and the result of requests greatly exceeding the capacity of the overall system. It can happen intentionally also, and an individual website can be disabled. Frequently, this is called a “distributed denial of service” or DDos attack.
Wikipedia (see link below) states:
“In computing, a denial-of-service attack (DoS attack) is a cyber-attack in which the perpetrator seeks to make a machine or network resource unavailable to its intended users by temporarily or indefinitely disrupting services of a host connected to a network. Denial of service is typically accomplished by flooding the targeted machine or resource with superfluous requests in an attempt to overload systems and prevent some or all legitimate requests from being fulfilled. In a distributed denial-of-service attack (DDoS attack), the incoming traffic flooding the victim originates from many different sources. This effectively makes it impossible to stop the attack simply by blocking a single source.
A DoS or DDoS attack is analogous to a group of people crowding the entry door of a shop, making it hard for legitimate customers to enter, thus disrupting trade. Criminal perpetrators of DoS attacks often target sites or services hosted on high-profile web servers such as banks or credit card payment gateways. Revenge, blackmail and activism can motivate these attacks.”
The DDos attacks have many different forms of attack and defenses. Attacks are meant to disrupt normal communications. The more technical details are provided in the Wikipedia summary as provided below.
As I prepared this post, cyber attacks by Russia had begun. Ukraine’s banks and Ministry of Defense reported the attacks. The impact is not considered serious. Hopefully, the international community is helping keep Ukraine’s cyber defenses in a high state of preparedness. See links.
Threatpost, “Ukrainian DDoS Attacks Should Put US on Notice–Researchers“, This is reporting from 2/16/2022 and the situation is highly fluid. There are US laws against cyber attacks, and European accords, but this is really very limited.
Wikipedia, Denial-of-service attack, There are many sites covering the cyber attack and defense issues. The summary goes into detail how network attackers look for any means to disrupt internet services through examining potential vulnerabilities. The cyber-extortionists profit by demanding payment in the form of bitcoins to call off the attack. Russia, North Korea and China may be training the next generation of these criminals. The cyber attacks can cause major disruption the telecommunication system, and weaken defenses. I am hoping that the NATO countries have already helped Ukraine to prepare for these attacks.