Congressional website hit with Russian cyber attack

Already strong tensions between the United States and Russia appear to have further escalated this week following an alleged cyber attack by Russian hackers. 

The congressional website was temporarily taken offline

Fox News reported that Congress’ official website briefly went offline on Thursday evening as internet users encountered a message which read  “Error 522” or “Connection timed out” when they attempted to access it.

According to the cable news network, a pro-Russian hacking group known as Killnet has claimed responsibility for the disruption.

Killnet is said to have a track record of engaging in denial-of-service attacks (DoS), a phenomenon in which users are unable to access information systems, devices or other network resources.

Fox News cited the U.S. Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency as stating that DoS attacks typically involve flooding a network’s servers with traffic, thus causing it to become overwhelmed.

“These service requests are illegitimate and have fabricated return addresses, which mislead the server when it tries to authenticate the requestor,” the agency explains on its website.

“As the junk requests are processed constantly, the server is overwhelmed, which causes a DoS condition to legitimate requestors,” it continues.

“Services affected may include email, websites, online accounts (e.g., banking), or other services that rely on the affected computer or network.”

Cyber security expert says the risk of Russian cyber attacks is rising

This past spring Fox News interviewed Tom Kelly, who serves as CEO of the cyber breach response company IDX. Kelly said that Russian hackers have “demonstrated that they’ve been able to go into our core infrastructure.”

“There are cyberattacks that would be hard to distinguish between a physical attack and therein lies great dangers for the escalation of conflict,” Kelly explained.

As an example, he pointed to last year’s ransomware cyber attack on the Colonial Pipeline, which left consumers in states along the Eastern Seaboard without access to gasoline.

What’s more, Kelly suggested that Russia may well resort to increased use of cyber attacks as a way to counter American support for the Ukrainian government, saying, “As we see this condition deteriorate [in Ukraine], I think the risk of greater cyberattacks rises.”

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