Russian hackers disrupt NATO’s aid campaign in Turkey and Syria

Pro-Russian hacking group Killnet has disrupted communication between NATO and military aircraft supplying aid to victims of the deadly Turkey-Syria earthquake, which killed over 33000 people, according to a report from The Telegraph.

Killnet, which has previously struck government services of various NATO nations and even websites of major US airports, claimed responsibility for the attack in one of their Telegram channels.

“We are carrying out strikes on Nato. Details in a closed channel.”

The distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack took down numerous websites, including that of NATO Special Operations Headquarters in Belgium and the Strategic Airlift Capability (SAC), which depends on NATO for providing military and humanitarian airlifts. The organization has previously been involved in aiding the Ukrainian army.

“It is shameful and gutless that Russian hackers have disrupted the communications between NATO and the military aircraft providing relief to victims of the Turkish-Syrian earthquake. This cyberattack is proof that there is no honor amongst hackers, with millions of people still recovering from the on the ground devastation. The good news is that NATO and the Strategic Airlift Capability are fighting through the disruptions and supplies are still moving to the people that need them the most,” Sam Curry, Chief Security Officer at Cybereason, said.

NATO’s website went down for several hours, with one of the SAC’s C-17 aircrafts used for vital missions being warned about the attack. The aircraft was believed to be flying supplies to the Incirlik Air Base in southern Turkey,

The contact with the aircraft remained intact, but relief efforts were hampered.

NATO confirmed the incident, saying that their cyber experts are working hard to address the incident.

Curry further commented that the attack is Killnet’s loudest attempt to get attention. But since the world is already divided along their opinions on the war in Ukraine, similar hacks are unlikely to have the desired effect of swaying people one way or another.

"The group claiming responsibility for the attack, Killnet, is known best for their use of DDoS (distributed denial of Service) as a tool. Building large botnets is significant, but it is also defensible; and resilience can be built. It's in some ways the ‘poor man's’ cyber tool, because it gets a big splash for relatively little investment. Dogs run in packs, and this is no different. DDoS produces a lot of barking, but the pack isn't that large. Targeting local and state governments is optimizing for the most visibility. If they could do more, they would.”