Cyber attacks are nothing new. The frequency, speed and power of the attacks have grown to epic proportions in recent years. Now, Internet security experts are noticing an escalation of Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks in the Ukraine and Russia.
Some of the attackers are true activists, while others are mischievous hackers, criminals or government agencies. Each hacker has varying levels of experience and the attacks range from infantile to highly political. However, in recent weeks massive attacks have been waged on a scale that Internet security experts have never seen before. Many of the attacks have been DDoS attacks, in which hackers hijack computers and proceed to send massive amounts of data to a website's server, until it crashes.
In the past few weeks, DDoS attacks on Ukrainian and Russian news websites have increased significantly, as both sides struggle to control what information is readily available to the people in both countries. Some anti-Russian hackers attack websites, replacing the word "Russian" with the word "Nazi" to compare Russian President Vladmir Putin's attacks on Crimea and the Ukraine to Adolf Hitler's invasion of Poland and other countries during World War II. Kremlin-sponsored news site "Russia Today" was one of the websites targeted.
"Putin: Nazi citizens, troops threatened in Ukraine, need armed forces protection," one affected headline erroneously read.
Meanwhile, pro-Russian hackers have fought to block revolutionary and Western-leaning broad casts from Ukrainian media outlets from reaching Russia, Crimea and the Ukraine.
Matthew Prince, the chief executive and a co-founder of Cloudflare, an Internet security firm that helps websites diagnose and treat cyber attacks, said that the attacks, though damaging, are not as large or as powerful as those that were waged by Russia in 2008 after the invasion of Georgia. Nor has the Internet been shut down like it was in Syria last year.
"I don't think it can be said that these are state-sponsored attacks," Prince said, given the limited scale of the current cyber attacks between Russia and Ukraine.
Still, in recent months, Cloudflare has warned that cyber attacks will continue to escalate as time goes on and hackers become more inventive. On Feb. 10, Cloudflare documented the largest cyber attack in history, which reached 400 Gbps at its height.
"Someone's got a big, new cannon," Prince tweeted after the incident. "Start of ugly things to come."