The country of Georgia faces the biggest hacking attack in its history



On Oct. 29th, Georgia—a country that sits at the intersection of Western Asia and Eastern Europe—experienced the largest cyber attack in its history. During this cyber attack, 15,000 websites were taken down. The majority of affected websites included local newspapers, government agencies, banks, and courts.

A local web hosting provider called Pro Service has officially taken blame for the breach, admitting that its servers were the cause of a successful network breach that resulted in a massive country-wide outage. Although roughly half of websites were restored by the end of the day, it caused quite a stir in Georgia.

Pro Service experienced a digital vandalism “website defacement” attack, where original content is replaced by the hacker’s content. Mass defacement involves the overhaul of a large cluster of sites that sit on the same server.

Typically, hackers with strong opinions or politically motivated goals use a SQL injection to deface a website. Most often, the offenders are extremist hackers against government agencies, big corporations, or religious organizations. The hacker’s intent is to get their own point across and/or ostracize the targeted site(s) from their followers or customers.

This is precisely what happened in Georgia. Attackers showed an image of the country’s former president, Mikheil Saakashvili, overlaid with the text, “I’ll be back.”

Saakashvili was well-received in the country, and served two consecutive terms from 2004 to 2013. He took a pro-West political approach, and is currently wanted by new Georgian government for criminal charges that Saakashvili believes are politically driven and unjust. After leaving Georgia, he was granted citizenship in the Ukraine, where we went on to serve as governor.

Avoiding a breach crisis isn’t just about choosing the right hosting provider. Moving forward, we hosting providers and business owners will likely employ tighter security measures. This level of security begins in the development phase—the foundation for all websites. The technology that programmers use around the world is responding to growing digital threats that take a preventative approach against hacking.

For example, Docker (a tool that allows developers to create, deploy, and run versatile software applications) recently announced the release of a two-factor authentication that would result in less vector attacks. Docker also allows for various system unifications, like Docker registry integration by jFrog, that make vulnerability analysis a feasible goal.

The mass attack on Georgian websites barely scratches the surface on what’s happening with data privacy and site security today. According to Cybergates.org, in 2017, nearly 830,000 .com domains experienced website defacement. In the hacking community, there are even contests to determine who can deface the most websites.

And that’s not all. Another study from Panda Security found that nearly 230,000 new malware samples are being launched every day. Furthermore, 27% of all malware that has ever existed was released in 2015 alone. The cost of cybercrime damage is expected to reach $6 trillion by the end of 2021.


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