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A War Without Weapons

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A War Without Weapons


[this seems to be a response to Karen's article in AZG daily - Nemesis]



[December 12, 2005]

“DiRecTor was here” or Muradik, or Alert - this are the notes that are usually left by Azerbaijani hackers after they break in yet again to Armenian websites (See photos). In contrast to Azerbaijanis, Armenian hackers don't leave such tracks.

Armenian and Azerbaijani websites and Internet forums have been subjected to mutual attacks by hackers for a long time now. As a result of this undeclared war, or perhaps declared war, on the Internet, insulting messages, threats, and slogans appear on Armenian and Azerbaijani websites from time to time. These two-way exploits are actively discussed on the Azerbaijani http://forum.fox.az and the Armenian http://forum.hayastan.com sites where hackers encourage each other and congratulate their colleagues with yet another victory: “Bless you, dear Lazar,” etc…

Those Armenian sites containing information about Armenian history, literature, and the Genocide are most often subject to attack. Last March Azerbaijani and Turkish slogans and insults appeared on web pages and forums dedicated to the Genocide after Azerbaijani hackers attacked the websites www.armenianhouse.org, www.genocde.ru, www.hayastan.com and www.artsakhworld.com. Azerbaijani hackers have also succeeded in breaking into the www.armnet.ru site. In response to this attack Armenian hackers destroyed several Azerbaijani internet sites and forums: www.training.az, www.pfmc.az/forum, www.aran.az, www.automarket.az/forum/, www.chat.az/.forum/, www.press.az./forum/, www.bazar.az/forum/, www.presscouncil.az/forum/. This year mutual attacks on each other's sites took place in February and March and throughout the summer months. If a site is not secure enough, attacks by Azerbaijani hackers can occur almost every week. The attacks are not always reactive—they can take the initiative as well.

What takes place on the worldwide web seems more like attempts to satisfy the hackers' pride on both sides, since no serious disorienting information is being placed on line. Hackers limit themselves to celebrating victory and registering their nicknames on the site. “We view the attacks on the Armenian sites by Azerbaijani hackers as a means of self-affirmation in the eyes of world famous hackers,” Osman Gunduz, the president of the National Internet Forum of Azerbaijan, told the Azerbaijani daily Echo in an interview.

“It's more like a competition – who can break into more sites, which site can earn more bragging rights vis-à-vis hacker colleagues. But there is of course, one aim, to do harm,” explained Samvel Martirosyan, manager of the portal www.OpenArmenia.com.

Although the Criminal Code of Azerbaijan prohibits virus-attacks and illegal entry into information systems belonging to others, punishment is only in the form of fines.

Chapter 24 of the Criminal Code of Armenia, “Crimes against computer information security,” a rticles 251-257, also prohibits unauthorized penetration into computer information systems, obliteration or changing information, i llegal appropriation of data from a computer or from the internet, and the manufacture, use, and dissemination of hazardous software. The Criminal Code of Armenia envisages for such crimes fines in the amount of 200 to 500 minimum salaries, or correctional labor for a term of up to one year, or imprisonment for a term of two to five years. According to information from the public relations department of the police no criminal proceedings have been instituted in Armenia since 2003 in accordance to Articles 251-257 of the Criminal Code. These articles have never in fact been applied in the any of the instances described above . It might have been possible to have some precedents if a hacker had broken into an Armenian, rather than an “enemy”, site.

According to computer experts, the aim of the information war is not the liquidation of manpower but the destruction of differing views, goals, and social outlooks. Information wars are never declared and are never waged by accident.

Today a multitude of ways of waging information wars have appeared. Among these are changing the content of e-mail messages, altering the information placed on the web, or placing incorrect information, or publishing information containing secrets, and so on. It is possible to distort the information on a site or alter its meaning. This approach implies a different strategy and reaches the limits of information warfare, since such actions are implemented in pursuit of a certain aim. This kind of distortion of information might even lead to numerous conflicts and threaten the security of a state in the real world. That is why a strong system of information security is an important prerequisite for winning an information war.

Lena Nazaryan

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