The Russian cyberattack on the Republic of Georgia's computer networks may have been planned in advance — with a "dry run" being commanded and controlled from within the U.S. nearly a month ago, weeks before the current war in the Caucasus began.
According to the New York Times, American cybersecurity experts noticed a directed denial-of-service (DDOS) attack against Georgian Web sites, including that of the country's president, on July 20.
The computer commanding the attack — the "bot herder" in technical slang — was based in the United States and had only been online for a few weeks beforehand, said experts with Shadowserver, a volunteer group that monitors malicious activity on the Internet.
The July 20 attack lasted only about 24 hours. But when the real war began on Aug. 8, a much larger cyberattack, this time directed from within Russia, took down the Web sites of many Georgian governmental and financial institutions.
Some experts say they see in the attacks the clear hand of the Russian Business Network, a mysterious group of uber-hackers who profit from cybercrime, identity theft and distribution of child pornography — and seem to operate without fear of prosecution in Saint Petersburg.