Attacks Overwhelm Estonian Internet Sites

Many commercial and government Internet sites in the Baltic nation of Estonia are being pummeled with online attacks—and the Estonian government says many of the attacks are being hosted by Russian servers.

The attacks began three weeks ago shortly after Estonia relocated a Soviet-era World War II memorial in the Estonian capital of Talinn. The memorial’s move was fiercely condemned by the Kremlin and some ethnic Russians living in Estonia, saying the memorial is a tribute to Russians who fought (and defeated) the Nazis in Estonia during World War II. However, many Estonians feel the memorial symbolized decades of Soviet occupation and oppression. The relocation of the memorial sparked protests and rioting, during which more than 150 people were injured and one person was killed.

Now, Estonian Internet sites have been finding themselves targeted by denial-of-service attacks designed to overwhelm the servers and prevent their being accessed by legitimate users. Sites belonging to the Estonian defense and foreign ministries have been hit with the attacks, as have Estonian newspapers, banks, and other institutions.

Andrus Ansip, Estonia’s prime minister, has directly accused Russia of being responsible for the attacks; the Estonian defense ministry says the attacks have originated from points all over the world, but some of them have been hosted by servers under the control of the Russian government, and that Russian-language information on how to carry out so-called “cyber-warfare”—including DOS attacks—has been distributed via Russian Web sites.

The Russian government denies any involvement in the attacks. Estonia wants to being the issue up at an summit between Russia and the EU scheduled to get underway Friday.

Estonia is well-known for being an enthusastic adopter of Internet technologies, boasting on of the continent’s most-developed Internet infrastructures. The country was also among to the first to offer online access to government services.

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