Site Archive‎ > ‎ on RuNet‎ > ‎Cybercrime‎ > ‎

Novaya gazeta demands a criminal investigation into DDoS attack

Source: (info), 14/04/11

· Freedom of expression · Public Prosecutor’s Office


Novaya gazeta has formally requested that the Investigative Committee open a criminal case with regard to the DDoS attack on its website. Today a lawyer from Agora Interregional Human Rights Association, Ilnur Sharapov, representing the interests of the publication, sent the necessary declaration about the crime to the head of the Russian Investigative Committee for Moscow’s South-East Administrative District, Sergei Yarosh.

According to Agora, administrative staff at the Investigative Committee for Moscow’s South-East Administrative District, without giving their names, refused to accept the declaration from the lawyer Ilnur Sharapov and suggested that he drop it into the post box or wait for their boss, who at that time was not in his office. As a result, the lawyer Ilnur Sharapov was obliged to send the declaration concerning the crime to the Investigative Committee by post by recorded delivery.

In its declaration, Novaya gazeta has requested that an investigation be conducted into the DDoS attack, and that on the basis of the results a criminal case be opened under two articles of the Penal Code of the Russian Federation: hindering the lawful professional work of journalists (Article 144) and creation of computer software wittingly resulting in unsanctioned blocking of information and the violation of the work of a computer network (Article 237).

The declaration states that on 7 April at 15.00 the  website of Novaya gazeta ceased to respond to users’ requests. Ten minutes later a specialist of the Kaspersky Laboratories telephoned to say that a DDoS attack on the website had started. He added that the attack was by an Optima-Botnet that had previously been used to attack Livejournal.

The editorial board of Novaya gazeta agreed to accept the assistance of the Kaspersky Laboratories in defending itself from the attack. Within days of the start of the attack the specialists reported that the activity of the harmful programme had significantly decreased. At 19.30 on 8 April a decision was taken to renew the work of the website. However, in the course of several minutes the attack on the website also began afresh. Specialists concluded that the Optima-Botnet had switched over to a ‘waiting regime’, having been programmed to respond with an attack to any renewal of activity on the Novaya gazeta website. Only on 9 April, two days later, was it possible to resolve the problem.

The editorial board was sure that the actions of the unknown persons who blocked access to the site were criminal in nature and consequently on 14 April the declaration was submitted to the Investigative Committee.

This most recent DDoS attack on Novaya gazeta is not the first. There had been an earlier attack on 26-27 November 2010 when the website was blocked for more than one week. On 4 February President Dmitry Medvedev issued an order to the head of the FSB, Aleksandr Bortnikov, to investigate this incident, drawing on independent computer specialists if necessary. However no such investigation was carried out.

‘A permissive attitude by law enforcement agencies and the ignoring of orders issued by the President resulted in new DDoS attacks on the websites of Novaya gazeta and Livejournal, since those carrying out the illegal attacks on these websites and those behind them enjoy a sense of impunity and, possibly, because law enforcement agencies are powerless to prevent DDoS attacks and to discover the identities of the immediate perpetrators and those who ordered the attacks,’ the declaration by Novaya gazeta to the Investigative Committee points out.

The order issued by Dmitry Medvedev to the head of the FSB can be read here.

Background Information

Novaya gazeta’s website was registered as a media outlet on 8 June 2007 by the Federal Agency for Legal Oversight of Mass Communications & Protection of the Cultural Heritage. The domain name was registered by the National Domain Registrar, Ru-Centre, on 11 November 2004.

Rights in Russia,
1 May 2011, 03:13