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[ISN] Battle for South Ossetia fought in cyberspace


By Thais Portilho-Shrimpton
The Independent
17 August 2008 

The six-day war between Russia and Georgia may have seemed a scruffy, 
bloody, almost 19th-century nationalist conflict, but it saw the 
deployment of what will be a major weapon in the wars of the future: the 
internet. South Ossetia was, say experts in both technology and military 
studies, the world's first cyberwar.

Websites on both sides, especially the Georgian one, were knocked out by 
co-ordinated online attacks. Among them were the Ministry of Defence and 
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs websites, the online English language 
dailies 'The Messenger', and 'Civil', and the personal website of the 
Georgian President, Mikheil Saakashvili.

Skirmishes have been conducted on websites before, notably as part of 
disputes that Russia had with Estonia in 2007 and Lithuania in July, but 
South Ossetia marked the first time they have been launched at the same 
time as ground troops and air strikes. They were even part of the 
softening-up process, with official Georgian sites coming under attack 
as far back as 21 July.

Dr David Betz, senior lecturer at the Department of War Studies of 
King's College, London, said: "We're still in the wooden biplane era of 
cyber-war. It will get more sophisticated, probably quite quickly. The 
US has already created units for cyber-defence, so too has China, no 
doubt Russia, and probably many others."


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