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Kosovo 1999: Hacking the Military Report

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Updated: Nov 16th, 2019

Chechnya 1994: Propaganda

Advance in technology and easy access to the internet has resulted in increased cyber crime and terrorism. Hackers are on a daily basis getting access to information that belongs to organizations and government agencies without prior consent. This jeopardizes the security of information and data since the data is either made available to everyone or it is used for malicious purposes.

The attackers of websites and other sites on the internet use the internet as a tool to spread propaganda (Denning 2001; Bednarz, 2004). The major aim of cyber attacks other than the spread of propaganda is to sabotage organizations, political reasons, alterations of data and information, economic espionage, monetary gains, revenge, and black mail (Henry, 2010; Denning 2001)

The report is based on the 1999 hacking of the Kosovo military that affected NATO’s websites and computer servers, as well as the websites of both the US and the UK governments. The paper addresses the motivation behind the attacks, the methods of attack, and the responses of the defenders to these attacks.

The motivation of the attacker(s)

The 1999 Kosovo military hacking by the Serbian Groups (Geers, 2008) was aimed at deleting information and data stored in the NATO database. Although this was not the major motivation of the attack, it is believed that the hackers’ “goal was to disrupt the NATO’s military operations” (Geers, 2008).

The kind of motivation where information is destructed through unauthorized entry into organizational systems has been supported by Henry (2010). With the information on logistics of the NATO’s operation under siege, the organization could not undertake its military operations conclusively as they were compromised. Database information was lost upon the attack and pictures and anti NATO messages posted on NATO’s website (Nuttall, 1999).

Basically, the attack was a form of propaganda that was being used to dent the public relations of NATO and the Yugoslavia military. Sabotage was another motivator to the attacks. This has been acknowledged by Nuttall (1999) who reports that the Serbia based Black Hand group attack of the NATO’s website was to sabotage the organizations military operations.

The attack methods used

The attackers infiltrated NATO’s database and website by the use of a virus. According to the case study report, the UK, the US, and NATO computers were invaded throughemail-of-service and virus-infected email (Geers, 2008). The attacks were reported to have defaced the White House website.

It was also reported that NATO’s websites at its headquarters in Belgium were inoperable. The virus that was used on the email had twenty five virus strains. From a single email infected with the virus, it had multiplied within a very short period of time. The email server of NATO’s become chocked as a result of multiple emails streaming in (Nuttall, 1999; Geers, 2008).

Following these attacks, NATO was forced to upgrading its system in a bid to ensure that its computer servers and network remain secure. Unfortunately, the network attacks started to spread to other parts of the globe thus affecting international network systems. Based on the Nuttall (1999) as presented on the BBC News, the `ping’ bombardment strategy was applied by the hackers.

Ping storm has been defined as a process that entails the use of a program to “send a flood of packets to server to test its ability to handle a high amount of traffic” (Nuttall 1999). It is also used with the intention of making a server inoperable. Based on these two definitions and the case study, applications were made. Database information and data were invaded by the viruses and deleted (Nuttall, 1999).

The response of the defenders

The US responded by stating that its websites were affected but nothing had been lost. However, the UK reported having lost multiple databases that had vital information to the organization. The spokesman of NATO reported of having experienced line saturations which were blamed on the Belgrade based hackers.

The Yugoslavian Foreign Secretary was reported saying that they would step up efforts to win the propaganda war started b the hackers (Nutall 1999). The NATO spokesman later apologized on a briefing on the eventful attack on its websites and the information it provided to people.


Based on the case study analysis, the hackers used virus and ping storm to attack the computer servers belonging to NATO. They also used the same methods to attack the UK and U.S Whitehouse websites.

The intentions of the attacks were malicious and intentional, with the aim of spreading propaganda and deleting important files that contained military operations. In essence, the main aim was to cripple down NATO’s military operations as its websites and servers were rendered inoperable. By sending affected email that multiplied and streamed itself to the NATO’s email server, the systems and network become inoperable.

The attacks were spread over to other destinations within a short period of time. The defenders of the attacks claimed that it was used to spread propaganda and the NATO was ready to fight it back. Although the US claimed the attacks had done little harm, NATO claimed to have lost data and so was the UK. Lastly, the attackers were used to sabotage the military operations and dement the public relations of the parties involved.

Reference List

Bednarz, A. (2004). . Network World. Web.

Denning, D.E. (2001). Web.

Geers, K. (2008). . Web.

Henry, J. (2010). Reducing the Threat of State-to-State Cyber attack against critical infrastructure through international norms and agreements. Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland, School of Public Policy. University of Maryland.

Nuttall, C. (1999). . BBC News. Web.

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