Posts Tagged ‘Russia’

A massive cyber attack targeting a European spam-fighting group that slowed some global Internet traffic to a crawl appears to have been launched by a gang of hackers from Russia and neighboring countries, says the head of a Russian firm specializing in defending against such attacks.

MOSCOW–A massive cyber attack targeting a European spam-fighting group that slowed some global Internet traffic to a crawl appears to have been launched by a gang of hackers from Russia and neighboring countries, says the head of a Russian firm specializing in defending against such attacks.

Alexander Lyamin, of Moscow’s Highload Labs, says he believes the same group who have caused trouble around the world with their attack against the non-profit Spamhaus Project Ltd. had earlier launched a series of brief strikes on several top Russian Internet companies as a trial run of their weapon known as a Domain Name System amplification attack.

“We first noticed incidents utilizing this technique a month-and-a-half ago in Russia. It started with a measly 10-20 gigabytes per second, but during the next month it grew to 60 and then 120 gigabytes. Apparently the attackers were growing their network of hacked servers,” Mr. Lyamin said.

The attacks against Spamhaus began on March 19 and appeared to have subsided on Wednesday. Some experts said the attack grew to as large as 300 gigabytes per second, which would make it the largest ever seen, although others–including Mr. Lyamin — dispute that.

A DNS amplification attack works by manipulating the basic system by which the Internet operates wherein a series of domain name system servers convert searches for particular sites, like, to their INS address which is actually a numerical code and makes the connection. The attack utilizes a network of hacked DNS servers to answer fake messages that appear to come from a targeted site with much larger responses. While this cripples the target site, it also severely slows the DNS server which results in bogging down scores of other searches. In the Spamhaus attack, experts have said they believe millions of web surfers were affected.

Spamhaus has accused Dutch Web-hosting company Cyberbunker for being behind the attack in a tit-for-tat retaliation for Spamhaus putting Cyberbunker on a blacklist for allegedly allowing vast amounts of spam to be sent through its servers.

Spokespeople for Cyberbunker and Spamhaus did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment. In a statement on its Website, Spamhaus said “a number of people have claimed to be involved in these attacks. At this moment it is not possible for us to say whether they are really involved.”

While Mr. Lyamin would not name the Russian companies that were the earlier targets because of “the very sensitive nature of this matter,” but said they included services used by Russians every single day.

“The targets were companies with good visibility and big names, but the attacks were only for a short duration of time. We think it was done for bragging rights. Also lots of Internet trash was targeted–porn, scam, drugs, piracy, etc. It was like a child playing Robin Hood or something,” he added.

He said the targeting of Russian companies, and the fact that the attacks tended to begin during daylight hours in Russia’s timezone, led his team to believe the attacks were launched by “a group of Russians or from our closest neighbors.”

Mr. Lyamin says he suspects whoever was behind the spam that Spamhaus had targeted had hired the hackers to launch the attack, which he said is a copycat of one undertaken in October 2010, about 20% smaller by volume of traffic.

“This is not new,” he said. “And I really doubt this is the biggest.”


Boris A. Berezovsky was found dead near London.


MOSCOW — At the end of his extravagant, intrigue-filled and ultimately solitary life, Boris A. Berezovsky, the post-Soviet robber baron who was the consummate Kremlin insider before he became a detested outcast, wondered if he would have been better off had he never fled Russia for England, if he had been thrown in jail like his fellow oligarch-turned-inmate, the oil tycoon Mikhail B. Khodorkovsky, another antagonist of President Vladimir V. Putin who remains in a northern Russia prison camp.

“Khodorkovsky preserved himself,” Mr. Berezovsky said, almost admiringly, to a columnist for Forbes’s Russian edition on Friday, the day before his apparent suicide.

But if Mr. Berezovsky felt torn, here in Russia — the homeland he claimed to long for, and where his death has been an obsessive topic of conversation, on television and the Internet, around dinner tables and office coolers — there is no such conflict.

Instead, there is a clear sense that Mr. Berezovsky will be little missed except perhaps for the entertainment value that he occasionally provided with his penchant for audacity. If he is remembered at all, it will be for the role he played in the post-Communist 1990s — an era that many Russians would just as soon forget.

“His death is a logical conclusion of his life; all his life he lived only for himself,” Aleksandr Khinshtein, a member of Parliament and the author of “Berezovsky and Abramovich: Oligarchs From the Open Road,” wrote in a remembrance on the Internet news site “His entire conscious life, he worked not for creation but for destruction.”

A spokesman for Mr. Putin, Dmitri S. Peskov, said he did not know the president’s immediate reaction to Mr. Berezovsky’s death. “But one can say that news of anyone’s death, no matter what kind of person they were, cannot arouse any positive emotions.”

Then again.

“I don’t have good words for Berezovsky,” said Gennadi A. Zyuganov, the longtime leader of Russia’s Communist Party, who called Mr. Berezovsky “a typical spawn of the awful 1990s.”

Mr. Zyuganov added: “He had good mathematical education, not bad capabilities. He could have become a decent scientist or the head of a major institute. But instead he became a ‘purse’ of Yeltsin’s family.”

Mr. Berezovsky promoted the idea that he had a central role in the rise of Mr. Putin as the successor to Boris N. Yeltsin. And though his true role is a matter of debate, in the end Mr. Putin’s opponents hated him for it, while Putin supporters refused to acknowledge Mr. Berezovsky as anything but an exiled robber baron — and not a particularly talented one.

Whatever the truth, Mr. Berezovsky was a top Kremlin insider when Mr. Putin, a former K.G.B. agent, was appointed prime minister, putting him in line for the presidency when Yeltsin resigned.

“According to some evidence it was Berezovsky who created Putin,” Andrei Kolesnikov wrote in the newspaper Novaya Gazeta. “Maybe there is some exaggeration in this. But that he was holding the candle when the very idea of placing, as an insider said, a ‘sane Chekist’ to the Czardom in Russia is a medical fact.”

Yeltsin, who died in 2007, was the person who gave Mr. Berezovsky access to power. But even Yeltsin did not like him.

“I never liked and I don’t like Boris Abramovich,” Yeltsin wrote in his final memoir, “Midnight Diaries.”

“I did not like him for his self-assured tone, for his scandalous reputation, for the fact that he is ascribed some special influence on the Kremlin, which has never been the case,” Yeltsin wrote. “I didn’t like him, but always wanted to keep him somewhere close.”

At the same time, Yeltsin called him an “undisputed ally” both “of the president and of the democratic reforms in general.”

Even if Mr. Berezovsky, to the end, professed a desire for the development of a democratic Russia, he was known for engaging in all sorts of less-than-democratic machinations on behalf of the Russian government. Those included payoffs to various combatants — particularly ransoms for kidnappings — during Russia’s war in Chechnya in the mid-1990s.

Mr. Berezovsky was also associated with many mysterious developments in modern Russian history, including the fatal radiation poisoning of his friend, the ex-K.G.B. officer Alexander V. Litvinenko, in 2006. His close business partner, Badri Patarkatsishvili, died under uncertain circumstances in 2008.

But even as many in Russia viewed him as sinister, a constant cast of supporting actors relied on him for financial support — not just his two ex-wives and an estranged girlfriend, his six children and his staff, including bodyguards and drivers, but also Mr. Litvinenko’s widow and others. For them, he was a protector, benefactor and employer — roles that he was increasingly unable to fill given his continuing legal and financial problems.

In that sense, he may have hinted at the unfulfilled promise of the industrial titans of post-Soviet Russia, a hope that like the Carnegies and Rockefellers and Vanderbilts, they would eventually become great philanthropists and establish a tradition of private-sector support in arenas once dominated by the Communist state.

Alexei Venediktov, the editor of Echo of Moscow radio, said that Mr. Berezovsky’s death would deprive his foes of a worthy adversary.

“Berezovsky added spice to their lives, including Putin,” Mr. Venediktov wrote. “After all, in history, our weight is determined by the weight of our enemies.”