Hackers Attack NATO Sites Over Crimea Stance

A Ukrainian group is claiming responsibility for a cyber attack that took NATO websites offline Saturday.
Posted at 12:18 PM, Mar 16, 2014

Ukrainian hackers are claiming responsibility for a cyber attack that brought down a pair NATO websites Saturday.  

The sites are back up now, but hacktivist group "Cyber Berkut" says it took down NATO's primary website and the website of its cyber defense center amid growing tensions over Crimea.  

That's where residents are voting in a referendum that may see the autonomous region abandon Ukraine to join Russia. (Via Press TV)

Reports indicate the NATO websites were down for several hours, but a spokesperson for the military alliance says no essential systems were compromised and that the attacks had no effect of its operations. (Via The Guardian, CNN, RT, Twitter / @NATOpress)

The spokesperson said the websites were taken down by what are known as distributed denial-of-service attacks. 

DDoS attacks vary, but in general aim to render a network resource unusable by overloading its servers. A common method of doing this involves using bots to send an overwhelming amount of external communications requests, so much, that the target can't respond to legitimate traffic. (Via MashableYouTube / quanzatv)

Berkut, which translates to "Golden Eagle," is a reference to former President Viktor Yanukovich's elite, and often brutal, riot police force. Cyber Berkut is believed to be a collection of Ukrainian nationalist groups. 

On its website, the group released a statement explaining: "We ... will not allow ... NATO occupation of our homeland! ... the west leads active propaganda among the Ukrainian population through the media and social networking, blocks objective sources of information, concealing criminal activities [of those] calling themselves the 'legitimate authority.'" 

While originally believed to the pro-Russian sympathizers, the group has reportedly launched attacks on Russian websites as well, something The Verge explains "speaks to the complex set of interests currently at conflict in Ukraine."

To clarify, Cyber Berkut believes Yanukovich was removed from power unconstitutionally, and condemns Western support for the country's new interim government as well as Russian intervention in the Crimean peninsula. The group's statement Sunday was posted to its site in Russian.