While Nero Fiddles

Cyber Attacks on Qatar

By Paul Rosenzweig
Saturday, June 10, 2017, 12:03 PM

While much of America (including me :-)) are obsessed with the Comey hearings and the Trump reaction, elsewhere in the world the Qatar dispute with the rest of the Gulf took center stage. Behind the scenes at least three seperate cyber operations were underway:

  • Al Jazeera's media platforms came under attack. Al-Jazeera has strong links to Qatar.
  • A growing cyber boycott of Qatar is taking hold across the Middle East. Qatari IP addresses are, apparently, being intermittently blocked in Egypt and the UAE. [For example, you can't reach the Qatari airline website from Cairo right now].
  • Meanwhile, as the New York Times reports, the spark that lit the fuse for this conflict may well have been a bit of cyber disinformation. This is not, of course, to say that the underlying factors were not present. But the effect was strong and immediate. As the Times says: "The report appeared just after midnight on the official Qatari news agency’s website, and its contents were stunning: The emir of Qatar was quoted as describing “tensions” with President Trump and speculating he may not last in office, recommending friendship with Iran, praising the Palestinian militants of Hamas, and then attesting to his own “good” relations with Israel.The contradictory statements could hardly have been better contrived to alienate the United States and Arab countries around the Gulf, and Qatar immediately began to deny the report, early on May 24. But within 20 minutes, satellite networks controlled by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates had seized on the damning news flash and began interviewing long lines of well-prepared commentators to expound on the perfidy of Qatar."

Our new section "While Nero Fiddles" is intended to be a compendium of critical security issues that may be lost in the fog of our Trumpian obsession. This is the first of what will, likely, be many such entries.