BY GAYANE MKRTCHYAN
Armenia Now reporter
YEREVAN (Armenia Now)–Azerbaijani hackers attacked seven Armenian website on July 3-4, hours before the visit of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Yerevan from Baku and on the eve of Armenia’s Constitution Day. The Armenian version of Facebook is also reported to have become a target of Azeri sabotage activity, which specialists in Armenia say is designed to spoil the atmosphere and festive moods surrounding special dates and events in Armenia.
Experts in this field say that such incidents usually happen before some memorable dates or a political event. They say it is impossible to completely prevent such attacks. Meanwhile, delivering a counter blow, by international law, is a crime.
Information security specialist Tigran Kocharyan says, however, Armenians still try to be proactive in some cases.
In the past month at least six Azeri sites have been hacked from Armenia.
There was at least one case of a major Armenian attack on a top site in Azerbaijan. Four years ago Armenian hackers got into the official website of the Azerbaijani president.
“The websites of presidents are usually considered to be the most secure, but (Armenian hackers) showed their skills,” says Kocharyan.
Armenian specialists say that attacks happen also from other countries, but in the case with Azerbaijani attacks, they are followed by the placement of some information regarding Azerbaijan and Karabakh.
Azeris are reported to have launched an organized sabotage activity against the Armenian version of Facebook on July 5, which is marked as Constitution Day in Armenia. July 5 also marked the second day of the Armenia visit by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as part of her five-country diplomatic tour that also included a stop in Azerbaijani capital Baku.
The hackers did their job using the “Translations” program.
Since Armenian language is still in the Beta version and is not closed for new translations or votes, in principle everyone can offer new variants for any word or vote for one version or another. During one day Azeris and Turks inundated the website with votes for their ‘sabotage’ wrong translation suggestions that eventually got more votes than the correct Armenian translation suggestions earlier voted for by Armenian Facebook users.
Comments containing Azeri calls such as “Karabakh is Azerbaijani territory” and other statements of this kind can be met almost in all network sections and pages beginning from the Welcome page of Facebook.
A few dozens Armenian users have already lodged complaints with the Facebook administration urging it to deal with the problem.
Armenian specialists at Google.Group say two months ago they revealed a 26-member Azeri group conducting anti-Armenian propaganda at Wikipedia, a popular online encyclopedia.
Wikipedia is open to posting information, updating data and making edits in existing entries, but requires that contributors should maintain an objective and impartial approach.
“Those 26 people were a well-organized group supporting each other and would take concerted action online against people whom they thought were pro-Armenian in order to oust them by creating blocks to their activities,” explains Sedrak Mkrtchyan, an information technologies specialist.
As a result, the whole conversation of Azerbaijani hackers was posted on the Internet and Wikipedia administrators blocked the entrance of the group’s head to the website, access to the resource was blocked for some of the group members for three months, others were reprimanded by the site’s administration.
“They shouldn’t be allowed to enter Wikipedia at all,” says Mkrtchyan.
According to the specialist, in order to avoid Azerbaijani sabotage activities they have developed an idea of launching an internet resource working like Wikipedia (and having the following address: www. haykpress.com).
Experts say Armenian websites also suffer hacker attacks from neighboring Georgia, but the most difficult thing, according to them, is to shield against attacks from Turkish hackers, who, they say, have been around for a long time and have become real hacking professionals.
The only country in the region from which Armenian websites have seen no hacker attacks is Iran.
Official websites in Armenia (such as of government agencies, etc) are under the control of the National Security Service and no official site has been hacked in Armenia in the past year.