DoS vs. Reformers in Kyrgyzstan

by Nathan Hamm on 11/16/2006

During Kyrgyzstan’s 2005 parliamentary elections and the following protests against the president, websites in Kyrgyzstan were under attack, resulting in the silencing of many political and opposition media websites. Open Net Initiative detailed these attacks and determined that they were most likely the work of contracted hackers based in Ukraine.

Some Kyrgyz sites were difficult or impossible to access from outside the country during the latest protests. Sean Roberts noticed that AKIpress opened a blog to get its reports out. It turns out that these difficulties may once again have been a result of a denial of service attack that (not so coincidentally?) coincided with the beginning of protests.

A series of strong DoS attacks on November 2, which blocked operations of Kirghiz main providers, led to a several-hour cut-off from the Internet of the whole country. It was equally impossible to access local web sites from Russia during the spell.

The failure of the Republic’s data networks occurred 12 hours before the start of an indefinite rally demanding resignation of the current president Kurmanbek Bakiev in Bishkek.

The story notes that once again the attacks came from outside of the country and it speculates that the attacks were organized by the government to silence the online media.

If this was indeed part of a government strategy to take its fight with the opposition into the cyber-trenches, the fight overall appears to have been much calmer than the one detailed by Claire Wilkinson last year. Nevertheless, it, along with opposition’s use of the internet to disseminate information to and to organize its followers, does show that the internet is a far more powerful weapon in times of political crisis than it appears at first glance.

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Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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