Russia sends in cyber attack dogs as NATO summit looms

Russia’s cyber partisans appear to be warming to the Kremlin-set task of disrupting the upcoming NATO summit in Vilnius, as threat group NoName takes down several websites associated with transport and tourism in the Lithuanian capital.

Cybernews checked the GoVilnius tourism promotion website just before going to press and the portal does indeed seem to be down at the time of writing.

The website that allows users to plan journeys around the Lithuanian capital also appears to have been affected.

However, the Trafi app that allows users to book and activate bus tickets for rides around Lithuania’s capital city appears to be working fine.

Moreover, public transport is free during the summit, which takes place tomorrow and the day after and will see NATO member countries gather to discuss, among other things, Ukraine’s possible entry to the Western military alliance.

The attacks come amid further disruption in Vilnius, with a shopping mall’s music streaming service and local radio station hijacked by more suspected partisans and briefly reprogrammed to play pro-Russian propaganda decrying military support for Ukraine.

Lithuania's national cybersecurity center (NKSC) has confirmed a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack on transport services in the capital.

"Currently, as we speak, DDoS attacks against our country are taking place once again," said NKSC head Liudas Ališauskas. He added that the m.Ticket system, which helps residents and visitors plan travel in and around Vilnius, had also been temporarily suspended due to a suspected cyberattack.

Ališauskas urged residents of Vilnius to remain vigilant over the coming days spanning the NATO summit, think critically, and report anything suspicious to the relevant authorities.

“This is not the first time hybrid attacks, when a cyber incident is used to spread disinformation, have been recorded in Lithuania,” he said. “Institutions are skilled in responding to such attacks, but joint action with the public will provide the greatest effect in preventing their spread.”

Meanwhile, Anonymous Sudan, widely believed to be a pro-Russian hacktivist collective masquerading as an Islamist outfit, claims to have taken down popular social network Reddit, based in the US city of San Francisco.

Cybernews also looked into these claims and found mixed results. This journalist encountered no problems accessing the portal, and was able to view posts that had been updated in the past hour. However, a colleague had some trouble getting Reddit to load on two separate networks.

It should be stressed that DDoS attacks rarely cause long-term damage to the target, and are regarded within the cyber community as more of a nuisance than anything else.

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