ISSUES OF ARMENIA’S CYBER SECURITY

Year by year Azerbaijan strengthens its positions in the information front. It is connected with the fact that official Baku has begun devoting more attention and finances to this issue. In its turn Turkey traditionally demonstrates the state approach to the very question.

Security of the Armenian segment of internet

It is already the fourth year that the Azerbaijani country has been waging a war against the Azerbaijani segment of internet. Azerbaijani hackers are periodically joined by the Turkish ones. Thus, in February 2007 were hacked the sites of the ombudsman, “De Facto” agency and the one of the National Statistic service under test. The warnings sent to the site owners have shown that even many hours after what had happened the fact of hacking was not noticed there. Last summer the Azerbaijanis made use of the lack of vigilance of the Armenian provider “Web” and took control over tens of Armenian sites, including the internet projects of “Mediamax” agency hosted in the company’s server. During several months the company didn’t correct its inadvertence, and accused the site owners of what had happened. As a matter of fact it turned out that the state structures responsible for the security didn’t interfere in the situation and only constant complains finally made the company solve the problems in the server’s security system. In the meantime the Azerbaijanis are still satisfied with hacking sites or uploading anti-Armenian information. However, if we take into consideration that the owners of such important sites don’t notice the fact of hacking, it may make a ground for the Azerbaijanis to spread disinformation prepared beforehand when necessary through Armenian sites.

Such cases of massed attacks on Armenian sites happen several times a year. At that, the attacks become more and more professional, more and more human and financial resources are involved by the Azerbaijani party and more and more important Armenian sites become target of attacks. Accordingly, it becomes vitally important not only the protection of the state owned sites but also the important Armenian ones. There is an impression, more often proved factually, that the Azerbaijani special services control a number of hacking groups, and the attacks on Armenian sites are realized to reveal their weak points, not for mere wracking. In that way it is more probable that a base is prepared in Baku to completely destroy the Armenian segment of internet when time comes. To confront such a threat and realize massive counterattack Armenians must have skilled stuff as well as operation strategy worked out beforehand.

Security of internal network

Hacking of Armenia’s foreign ministry internal network in December of the previous year became logical continuation of the Armenian party’s lack of system and systemized activity of the Azerbaijani party. Even basing on open information in the press one could come to a conclusion that the Azerbaijani special services controlled a number of hacking groups used to attack against Armenia.

It is not the matter of little importance the task of protecting electronic correspondence. To all appearances this issue is not devoted appropriate attention to yet. So, the press secretary of Armenia’s Ministry of Defense has been many years using the free Russian server mail.ru to dispatch press-release, the hacking of which is even openly advertised in the internet and costs $50. There is no guarantee that at the moment this mailbox is not under secret control of Azerbaijanis and will be used at a proper time in their purpose.

It is quite obvious what serious losses may be inflicted by hacking electronic perspective of high ranking officials. As a whole, there must be a unique strategy of protecting the state internal network, system of electronic documents circulation especially taking into consideration the fact that in the country are more and more introduced systems of electronic government, the danger of unapproved access to the system is aggravated. It is not of little importance protection of non governmental commercial networks of strategic importance, for example, connected with energy systems the vulnerability of which may cause catastrophic after-effects.

Propaganda

Almost nothing was undertaken by the Armenian party against Azerbaijani and Turkish propaganda. The main operations in this direction are performed by the Armenians from Armenia and Diaspora who are led by their individual patriotism and enthusiasm. For example, the operations against the disinformation of Azerbaijani mass media that the Armenians of Lvov had claimed for the city to be called “Aryuc,” was conducted only by the part of the Armenian internet-community, which managed to make most of thy Ukrainian mass media take away the material from internet sites. At that, in Azerbaijan and Turkey such issues are almost completely undertaken by state structures. At that, not that big stuff of specialists from the Armenian party could have conducted monitoring of Azerbaijani agitation and disinformation and conducted counterattacks. Taking into consideration the big number of Armenians involved in information warfare individually, such a structure, involving these individuals, could succeed in this front with minimum outlets.

In Armenian press is all the time advertised Azerbaijani and Turkish mass media, in particular in the internet. On the whole, one may say that according to statistics the Armenian TV and newspapers advertise Azerbaijani network resources more than the native ones. Moreover, the Armenian mass media reprints the Turkish disinformation without checking it properly, in that way replicating it among the Armenian audience. Let alone that very often Azerbaijani news are just copied preserving such terms as “Karabakh separatists,” in inverted commas are used the words “genocide,” “NKR” etc.

Besides, there isn’t even a common course of work with the state symbolism. In the Armenian mass media is all the time spread propaganda of state symbolism of Azerbaijan and Turkey in the most favorable light. At the same time in the Armenian press there isn’t even a single approach to the NKR map. More often the Armenian audience sees the former picture of NKAR (Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region) on TV having no connection with Armenia. The fact that in the country no attention is paid to such “trifles” is the symptom of lack of understanding of the state approach importance both to inward and outward propaganda.

In its turn, in the home market there is a complete lack of state approach – the local mass media almost doesn’t elucidate life in Nagorno-Karabakh, districts of Armenia, although, while understanding the importance of the problem each publication must have its offices of the correspondent in Stepanakert, as well as in district centers. As a matter of fact there is only one Karabakh agency in the internet, Karabakh-Open.com, which is quite quick to inform about the events in the NKR. At that, other Armenian mass media pay no attention to this resource continuing to draw information from Azerbaijani sources.

There is quite a paradoxical situation when for most of the Armenians the main source of information in the internet is the Azerbaijani informational portal Day.az, which at par of visits and citing exceeds all the analogical Armenian sites taken together. It is worth mentioning that in the period of “emergency” Day.az was very popular among Armenians, as it skillfully aggregated the Armenian news from all the sources, both official and opposition, which was not able to do any of the Armenian publications.

Conclusion

In case of preserving up-to-date tendencies Armenia will in the near future completely lose the initiative in the information warfare against Azerbaijan and Turkey. It becomes vitally important foundation of interdepartmental body coordinating information activity of the National Security Service, Foreign Office, Ministry of Defense and other departments to counteract, and what is more important, to initiate activities in this direction.

Samvel Martirosyan

http://noravank.am/en/?page=analitics&nid=1282

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