Fighting Over Nagorno Karabakh Takes to Cyber Space
The hostilities between Azerbaijan and Armenia between April 2 and April 5 have not just been on the military front; hackers from Armenia and close Azerbaijani ally Turkey have been exchanging deadly cyber-fire over the past few days, too.
Declaring that it had “sided with Azerbaijan against Armenia, the aggressor,” HackRead reported, a group with the nom de guerre of Turk Hack Team claimed on April 3 to have shut off access to sites for Armenia’s government administration and the National Security Service, National Bank and Ministry of Economy. Another band, Aslan Neverler Tim, alleged that it knocked offline the websites for Armenia’s defense, agriculture, energy ministries.
Some Armenian observers confirmed DDOS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks, a targeted congestion of service, on gov.am sites. Cyber-security expert Samvel Martirosian told Armenian media that the attackers failed, though, to hack into the websites.
Turk Hack Team is known for anti-Armenian cyber-attacks. The group claimed responsibility for taking down the Vatican’s website a year ago in retaliation for Pope Francis’ description of Ottoman Turkey’s 1915 killings of ethnic Armenians as genocide, a term modern-day Turkey rejects.
Some Armenian hackers, meanwhile, have responded in kind, but against Azerbaijan. On April 5, the Armenian hacker group Monte Mekonian Cyber Army published on Twitter the personal data of 25,000 Azerbaijani soldiers and claimed it had broken into Azerbaijan’s government web sites. Azerbaijani communications officials denied both claims on April 6.
Work by Azerbaijani hackers has not surfaced, although Martirosian alleged that unidentified Azerbaijani hackers disseminated “chaotic information” on the profile pages of Facebook users from the Karabakh-controlled Kashatagh region, known to Azerbaijanis as Kelbajar.
The 23rd anniversary of the region’s takeover fell on April 2, the same day that fighting dramatically escalated between Azerbaijani, Armenian and separatist forces.