Turkey recovers from cyberattack amid criticism of solution

Turkey recovers from cyberattack amid criticism of solution

Gamze Kolcu – ANKARA
Turkey recovers from cyberattack amid criticism of solution Turkey has begun recovering from a week-long cyberattack amid criticism from IT experts over its decision to help solve the issue by prohibiting international access to the country’s DNS, daily Hürriyet has reported.

Turkey has been experiencing a cyberattack that started on Dec. 14, targeting nearly 400,000 websites with the extension “.tr.” The cyberattack nearly came to a halt in the morning hours of Dec. 21, and recovery and damage assessment activities have been launched by leading IT organizations along with Middle East Technical University (ODTÜ).

Turkish IT professionals in response banned access to the DNS from abroad and communication channels were re-opened when the cyberattack first started. Around 400,000 websites, however, were denied access from abroad.

An IT source speaking to daily Hürriyet said it was not clear whether Russia was behind the cyberattack, although initial reports suggested Russian hackers were the perpetrators of the mass slowdown both in Internet access and the operation of hundreds of Turkish websites, including official websites of governmental bodies and those of private companies.

The international hacking group Anonymous, meanwhile, also threatened greater cyber action in a video posted Dec. 19 if the Turkish government “did not stop buying oil” from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

“This mass cyberattack is known to be the biggest so far with the intensity of slowing down the websites,” ODTÜ Computer Engineering Professor Attila Özgit said. 

Those who sought to access Turkish websites had no or limited access and received error messages during the cyberattack.

But IT professionals criticized the method of banning access to Turkish websites from abroad to protect servers in the country, saying the country should have been more prepared for any possible cyberattacks.

IT experts criticized the fact that no reporting was made by the National Computer Emergency Response Center (USOM), a team of IT professionals that intervene in nationwide cyberattacks, about the attack and also that authorities issued no explanation regarding the virtual assault.

European IP Networks (RIPE), an Internet organization dealing with DNS servers, stated that it had to shut down Turkey’s servers because of the attacks, but the move slowed down international access to the websites when the hackers created artificially intense traffic on main Internet lines.

The slowdown did not affect all of the Internet in Turkey, as social media users experienced no problems, unlike those attempting to conduct electronic transactions.