Information Warfare: Dictators Prefer Botnets

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November 18, 2008: In the African nation of Mauritania, the military dictatorship has used Cyber War techniques to shut down two opposition web sites that provide the most information on what is going on inside the country. The generals apparently hired several botnets (networks of illegally controlled PCs, yours might be one of them and you wouldn't know it) to smother the anti-dictatorship websites with phony visitors (a "DDOS attack"). The botnets (tens, or hundreds of thousands of hijacked PCs) are run by criminals who rent them out for sending spam, DDOS attacks or several other types of Internet based scams.

The Mauritanian generals ousted the elected government three months ago, and has not been happy about what sites like the Sahara Media news agency and the opposition al-Anba' al-Ikhbari have been publishing.

Earlier this year, the military dictatorship in Myanmar used a similar tactic to shut down offshore opposition websites. China and Russia have used similar tactics. Since it is difficult, and often impossible, to trace these attacks back to a government entity, such censorship can be carried out as long as you can pay a mercenary Internet criminal gang to do the deed.

 

 

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