That said, what I don’t really understand is why it’s so hard to accept the fact that a bevy of nationalistic Russians may have decided to take revenge on Georgia after reading the news of the war WITHOUT coordinating their actions with the Russian government. Why did they need to coordinate anything if they were capable of launching DDOS without government assistance? By the same logic, we should be theorizing that the hordes of people who launched DDOS attacks on the Iranian government’s web-sites two months ago were also being led by DOD or the State Department. How many reasonable people believe that this wouldn’t have happened if the US government didn’t get involved?
This may look silly, but every time I hear of such theories, I am reminded of the famous conversation between Napoleon and the French astronomer Laplace. When the emperor asked the scientist why he didn’t mention God in his vision for the comprehensive world system, Laplace quipped that he had no need for that hypothesis. Similarly, there is no need for DOD or the State Department in explaining the cyber-attacks on Iran; there is also no need for invoking the Russian government in the attacks on Georgia. If the Russian government really wanted to destroy the Georgian communications, they could have done so by destroying their Internet cables or bombing their TV stations.
Frankly, I am not much surprised by the lack of critical analysis of the attacks on Georgia: this is what happens when technological analysis is conducted in complete isolation from the world of politics. I’d be surprised if any of the recent cyberwarfare reports actually reached out to the non-military and non-tech regional experts, particularly those who are knowledgeable about the political developments in the region. Trying to analyze the cyberdemension of a real war is impossible without understanding the causes, the conduct, and the aftermath of the war.
However, in a quest for anecdotes that could help establish a tenuous connection between DDOS and the “real world” (i.e. the governments rather than petty criminals), most observers of cyberwarfare fail to take notice of the forces shaping that “real world”. Perhaps, this is to expected, but that more and more journalists fall for this narrative is quite disconcerting.