Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Under Denial-of-Service Attack

By Matthew Harwood

A denial-of-service attack has been jamming up the Web sites of the U.S.-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty since Saturday, reports the Associated Press.

The attacks seem to be aimed at the network's Belarus site, but a number of the network's other stations have been affected as well, according to the network's Web site.

The attack, which started on April 26, intially targeted the website of RFE/RL's Belarus Service, but quickly spread to other sites. Within hours, eight RFE/RL websites (Belarus, Kosovo, Azerbaijan, Tatar-Bashkir, Radio Farda, South Slavic, Russian, and Tajik) were knocked out or otherwise affected.

The "denial-of-service" (DOS) attack was intended to make the targeted website unavailable to its users, according to RFE/RL's Director of Technology Luke Springer. "The way this is normally done is by flooding the target website with fake requests to communicate, thereby using up all [the website's] free sources and rendering the site useless to all the legitimate users," Springer said.

The network's Belarus head, Alexander Lukashuk, suggested that the government of Belarus is responsible for the cyberattack.

"We have a large Internet audience (in Belarus) that was relying on us to report live a rally of thousands of people protesting the plight of uncompensated Chernobyl victims and a government decision to build a new nuclear power station," he said .... "It's very hard to be certain in these cases but because the target was the Belarus service it does look like it's coming from the Belarus government," said Diane Zeleny, spokeswoman for the broadcaster."

Radio Free Europe, a nonprofit, private organization funded by the U.S., was created in 1949. The network broadcasted pro-Western news and promoted democratic values to undermine communism in countries behind the Iron Curtain.

Jeffrey Gedmin, the network's president, said Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's mission still applies in a post-Cold War world.

"Dictators are still trying to prevent the kind of unfiltered news and information that (Radio Free Europe) provides from reaching their people," he said. "They did not succeed in the last century and they will not succeed now."



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