Several Turkish websites belonging to both private companies and government agencies came under cyberattack this week. Some in Turkey claim Russian hackers are responsible, suggesting the attacks might be the result of rising tensions between Turkey and Russia.
However, as Hurriyet Daily News notes, there is no solid evidence of Russian involvement.
“No reporting was made by the National Computer Emergency Response Center (USOM), a team of IT professional that intervene in nationwide cyberattacks, about the cyberattack. Authorities, on the other hand, have yet to issue an explanation on the cyberattack on national websites,” Hurriyet reports.
The attack has been in progress since December 14 and is described as severe enough to cause “a serious halt in official processes, as well as financial losses in private business organizations.” To restore functionality, computer technicians had to block access to the targeted websites from abroad, which in turn hindered the ability of Turkish sites to communicate with foreign systems.
The UK Telegraph describes the attack as a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) operation, affecting at least 400,000 websites in total. The Telegraph says some believe the Russian hacking attack is retaliation for a similar DDoS strike launched against Russia’s Sputnik News bureau in Turkey.
One cybersecurity expert quoted by The Telegraph, Dave Palmer of Darktrace, said the attack was small and crude enough to potentially be the work of freelance vandals: “It could just as easily be a teenager in a bedroom with some bitcoin who has rented a botnet to do the attack, as it could be someone more sophisticated.”
On the other hand, another analyst, Artturi Lehtio of the Finnish firm F-Secure, compared the attack on Turkish systems with a DDoS campaign against Estonia in 2007, suspected to be the work of “patriotic individuals from Russia,” although the involvement of the Russian government could not be proven. Recent attacks against Ukrainian and German military and government networks have likewise been traced to a pro-Moscow hacker group called CyberBerkut. Lethio thought the mischief in Turkey could likewise be the work of “a patriotic individual or organisation trying to do what they perceive as best for their nation.”