MOSCOW, March 14 (RIA Novosti) – A series of coordinated cyber attacks by hackers have interrupted services of several Russian government websites, officials said Friday.
The websites of the Russian presidential administration, central bank, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were unavailable for several periods throughout the day on Friday.
“A powerful attack on the site is ongoing,” a spokesperson for the Kremlin said Friday. “Measures are being taken to restore the normal functioning of the site.”
Bank of Russia said in a statement that its website had been offline for about an hour Friday morning following a denial of service attack. A source at the central bank told Prime business news agency that the origin of the attack remained unknown.
By early Friday evening the websites appeared to be functioning normally.
The attacks could represent a new phase in the ongoing crisis in Ukraine’s Crimea, where masked troops widely believed to be under Russian command have seized military bases in recent weeks and a referendum is being held Sunday on secession and possible annexation by Russia.
An attack on the website of the Russian newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta last week was traced to a pro-Ukrainian group of hackers who call themselves the “Maidan Hundred,” a reference to Kiev’s main square where often violent protests broke out in recent months.
Hacker attacks have been at the center of previous disputes between former Soviet republics and Russia. Government and private websites in Estonia were brought down by hackers during a 2007 dispute over the relocation of a Soviet war memorial in the Baltic country’s capital, Tallinn.
The attack on Russia’s central bank was not the first such incident. Hackers brought down the bank’s site for seven minutes in October during another coordinated strike.
An official at the central bank later said that attack was believed to be linked to the Islamic anti-Russian group Anonymous Caucasus.
The Digit.ru technology news agency reported the October attack came from a so-called botnet, a network of compromised computers, often owned by unsuspecting users, and controlled remotely by hackers that can swamp a web server with rapid fire requests of its web pages, known as a distributed denial of service attack.
Updated with new lede, information on restored functionality, foreign ministry attack and previous Rossiiskaya Gazeta attack