Government Vows To Guard Against Cyber Attacks

Armenia's internal revenue department Web site

Armenia's internal revenue department Web site

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—Authorities in Armenia are working to boost the security of various government websites suffering increasingly damaging attacks by Azerbaijani and other hackers, a senior official said on Tuesday.


Cyber attacks on Armenian Web sites, especially those belonging to state structures, appear to have been on the rise of late. The Web site of the State Revenue Committee was their most recent target. It was defaced and disabled by August 10 by hackers that posted on its front page a picture of an Azerbaijani army officer who axe-murdered an Armenian colleague during a NATO training course in Hungary in 2004.


Ara Saghatelian, head of the Center for Public Relations and Information at the Armenian presidential administration, said his body and the National Security Service (NSS) launched recently separate studies of the security of the government websites.


“We are preparing to report the results of that study to our leadership,” he told RFE/RL. “I am more than convinced that within a very short period of time they will entail real and practical steps aimed at enhancing the security of those websites.”


According to Saghatelian, hackers manage to break into Armenian sites because of inadequate safeguards put in place by their designers and Internet service providers. “We have now devised security standards to which any website of a state body must correspond,” he said.


The Armenian government already ordered relevant services to step up Internet security last April. Artsvi Baghramian, a spokesman for the NSS, said the decision led the security body to set up a special Internet task force. It has managed to neutralize some of the cyber attacks in recent months, Baghramian told RFE/RL.


Garegin Chukaszian, an Internet expert who advises the government on the development of information technology in Armenia, believes that the authorities need to come up with a more comprehensive plan of tackling the problem. “An attack [on a website] occurs and we patch it up,” he said. “Then another attack occurs and we patch it up again.”


“There is no approach that would enable us to have full information about what’s going on in cyberspace and prepare for that accordingly,” added Chukaszian.


Ruben Muradian, a deputy director of the Internet firm SmartTech in charge of cyber security, agreed. “Unfortunately, it has to be said that in Armenia that task is left to the enthusiasm and skills of individuals,” he said.


Saghatelian insisted, however, that all the actions planned or taken by the authorities against hacker attacks stem from a strategy of ensuring Armenia’s “information security” approved by the government earlier this year.


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