MOSCOW — Russia Today, the state-owned media outlet that recently aired a television program hosted by Julian Assange, was driven offline Monday morning by an unprecedented cyberassault.
Not much is known about the attack, but several theories have been put forward by experts in the field, and some anti-WikiLeaks hackers have taken credit without providing credible proof.
Dr. Angstrom H. Troubador, professor of history at Cambridge and expert on geopolitics, said that large-scale cyberattacks like these are generally outside of the scope of individual actors.
“There is little doubt in my mind that a sophisticated organization was involved in this attack,” he said via email.
Dr. Troubador refused to speculate on possible suspect organizations, but commenters on social media were abuzz with rumor.
A recent article put out by the Associated Press and widely syndicated by thousands of publications, including Russia Today, brought huge publicity to organized crime taking place on the antiquated Soviet Union domain name extension. Cybercriminals in Russia and Eastern Europe have long been known for their sophistication and integration with traditional organized crime in the region, and many have ties with former Soviet organizations, which are at odds with Russia Today.
Meanwhile, Russia Today has brought publicity to civil disturbances in Turkey, leading many to believe the attack was carried out by militant Islamist groups who have quickly integrated cyberattacks into their arsenal of terror and want to heighten the drama of what they believe is part of the Islamic Revolution. Yet others believe the Turkish government itself has deployed this cyberattack in order to dispel the riots plaguing their cities.
Because of the huge attention given to WikiLeaks, the Occupy movement, and Anonymous by Russia Today, still others believe some operative from the United States Government may have deployed this devastating attack. It was recently revealed that almost all of America’s cyberwar capabilities are controlled by private contractors who often act far outside of the boundaries of law.