12 Aug How Google (and Estonia) are Defending Georgia
Almost a decade ago, Tom Friedman famously scoffed at the idea of a “Microsoft Navy” defending the shipping lanes of the Pacific. But technology has a way of moving us in unforeseen directions, raising the possibility not just of aggressive cyberwarfare, but of cyber-defense forces. So, when hackers (allegedly Russian in origin) took down Civil.ge, the official English-language official Georgian news cite, Georgia turned to Google Blogspot to host the site, counting on the (almost always) reliable Google servers and security firewalls to keep out the cyberenemy. It is an interesting twist on both privatization of government functions and asymetric warfare, demonstrating how off-the-shelf products can be particularly helpful for a “cyberlocked” country like Georgia. As the Wired blog reports:
“In a sense,” notes Jim Stogdill, “they must be saying ‘we can’t keep our sites up, but we don’t think [Russian hackers] can take down Blogspot, given Google’s much better infrastructure and ability to defend it.'”
“Another interesting aspect is seeing how certain countries are what I call ‘cyberlocked,'” cybersecurity veteran Richard Bejtlich tells Danger Room. “We know a land-locked country has no access to the sea. Countries like .ge [Georgia] might rely too heavily on one or a handful of connections, potentially through hostile countries (eg, .ru [Russia]), for their physical connectivity. As a result, an adversary can control their network access to the outside world. A diagram from the Packet Clearing House, shows Georgia’s network dilemma.
Meanwhile, Estonia (once the victim of Russian-based hackers) is now hosting Georgia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs website. And “in a historic first, Estonia is sending cyberdefense advisors to Georgia,” Network World observes.