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Tensions Between Nations Trigger Political Hacking

Political hacking like the attacks launched on government Web sites of Estonia during the past few weeks is not something new amidst international tension.

In more instances hackers in India and Pakistan initiated a slew of online attacks targeting each other in 2002. This happened with the growth of political tensions between the two nations. Similarly, hackers in China and Taiwan often attack each other on their websites whenever political strife escalates.

The hacking happens very frequently. Whenever a strike is hurled regarding the Taiwan issue, numerous hackers in mainland China eye Taiwan, said Bob Ayres, a security specialist form the Chatham House think-tank in London. MSNBC published Ayres' statement on May 17, 2007.

Usually, such cyber attacks occur through networks of zombie PCs worldwide. Hackers compromise a large number of computers and control them remotely. Such networks are called 'botnets'. The owners of the hijacked computers usually do not realize that somebody is using their machines for launching attacks. All that they can notice is a slow running of their PCs than the usual.

Hackers even manage to hide themselves in such attacks. As they send the messages via many countries, authorities find it difficult to track them. Though some IP addresses responsible for the attacks on Estonian government Web sites seem to indicate the source in Russia, it is hard to determine if they are the hackers' actual location.

In the Estonian case, there were some unsuccessful online attacks at cell-phone networks and rescue service systems. Had these attacks been successful, they could affect fatally, said Mr. Urman Paet, foreign minister of Estonia. FT.Com published Mr. Paet's statement on May 17, 2007.

Internet attacks generally exploit fresh vulnerabilities in Internet Explorer, the most commonly used browser. According to security vendor Sophos, viruses have tainted most websites in China and the U.S.

There have been cyber attacks against newspapers, banks, schools and various other institutions. Cyber hacks are so new that no universal rules have come up on returning strikes at them. Several cyber attacks have received the blame of the EU, different EU member states, the U.S. and NATO.

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