Incidents

Elections 2012 and DDoS attacks in Russia

As Eugene Kaspersky had written earlier, we were expecting new DDoS attacks on resources covering the Russian presidential election. So, as the country went to the polls on 4 March, we were on the lookout for new DDoS attacks.

We were surprised to hear a news report from one mass media source that claimed a series of attacks from foreign countries had targeted the servers responsible for broadcasting from polling stations. The announcement came at about 21:00, but there was no trace of any attack on our monitoring system. The media report did not clarify exactly what sort of attacks had been staged. Instead of a DDoS attack, the journalists might have been referring to a different method of seizing unauthorized access, such as an SQL injection.

But, just as we were about to conclude the 2012 poll would pass off without any DDoS attacks, a command to target webvybory2012.ru (which was broadcasting from webcams set up in polling stations around Russia) and cikrf.ru (Russia’s Central Election Committee) was given. The command came at about 22:30 Moscow time and at least two botnets were used to bombard the servers with false requests.

At around 1 a.m. the botnets’ owners seemed to realize that the attacks were futile and halted them. Attacks on several other resources were also terminated. Instead of this, the botmasters decided to combine the efforts of at least two botnets and attack the servers of 16 web addresses assigned to the domain name webvybory2012.ru.

By 3 a.m. these attacks were also terminated from the botnet control server. We can only guess as to why, though they were likely to have been stopped because the attacks were ineffective. The computing power and the Internet channel capacity allocated to the website were enormous.

The websites webvybory2012.ru and cikrf.ru are currently accessible and appear to be functioning normally.

There is one intriguing detail here. Eugene Kaspersky wrote in his blog: “It can’t be long before we observe a DDoS attack between two political parties based on one and the same botnet.” Well, that day might already have come. The attacks on webvybory2012.ru and cikrf.ru were carried out from the same botnet which attacked news resources in the Russian provincial city of Ufa, including cik-ufa.ru, journalufa.com and openufa.com, a few weeks ago.

We will keep on monitoring DDoS activity in Russia and keep you informed of new attacks.

Elections 2012 and DDoS attacks in Russia

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