As the Syrian civil war drags on one thing is clear, Russia is arming the Syrian government. As they have already supplied arms and attack helicopters to al-Assad’s regime, could Russian hackers be performing cyber attacks against Syrian opposition too?
It’s really no secret that Russia is arming the Syrian government, and there is nothing illegal about it. Russia and China have used their veto power at UN security council meetings to block sanctions against Syria. But as the physical battle rages on, a war in the cyber realm is also well under way.
A full blown war of cyber attacks is unfolding in Syria, with some calling it the most active cyber conflict in recent times. Apparently pitting the Syrian government and a group called the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA) against a loose group of Syrian resistance hackers and surprisingly the hacker group Anonymous.
So far the majority of the cyber conflict is one sided, with Syrian rebels taking the brunt of the attacks (Syrian rebels have really only been able to deface some government sites in response). But with the overwhelming efficiency and strength of the attacks, it is apparent that the Syrian government must be getting outside help.
A DefenseNews article discloses that Syrian government forces are using cyber tools that have been created by several other countries in their offensive strikes:
Assad has Iran’s backing, and his supporters are allegedly also using Iranian cyber tools. Alexander Klimburg, a senior adviser at the Austrian Institute for International Affairs, said it’s widely believed that the Syrians are using popular offensive software designed in Iran.
But it is just not Iranian software, they are also using utilities created in Europe and surprise, surprise… Russia.
The Russian government is well known to use hacker groups like the Russian Business Network to attack other nations. Doing so gives the Russia government plausible deniability in the attacks.
With Russia apparently investing military equipment in the al-Assad regime and offensive cyber tools, it is not a far stretch to assume that they may also be supplying the use of Russian hacker group services.