Turkey is reeling under a massive cyberattack purportedly carried out by the hacktivist group Anonymous. The targets of the attacks include the websites of the government and banks.
The two-week-long cyber campaign intensified over Christmas as scores of financial and state-run sites were experiencing distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks resulting in crippling of transactions. Anonymous claimed responsibility for the attacks. The group released a video claiming that they brought down the servers because of Turkey's alleged ties with the Islamic State (Isis). Local media reports said leading banks such as Isbank, Garanti and Ziraat Bank were among the targets.
"Dear government of Turkey, if you don't stop supporting Isis, we will continue attacking your internet, your root DNS, your banks and take your government sites down," a voice in the Anonymous video said. The video has since been taken down by YouTube.
"After the root DNS we will start to hit your airports, military assets and private state connections. We will destroy your critical banking infrastructure," it added.
Experts say as many as 50,000 computers in Turkey had inadvertently contributed to the ongoing DDoS attacks – the rudimentary technique by which a website is flooded with traffic eventually bringing it down. This is not the first time Anonymous has taken on the Turkish government. In 2013, when there were widespread anti-government protests, the group had launched a similar cyber offensive against Ankara.
"The attacks are serious. But the target is not Turk Telekom. Instead, banks and public institutions are under heavy attack. A majority of Turkish institutions use Turk Telekom as the service provider, therefore we are the ones doing the defence against these attacks," Onur Oz, a spokesman for internet provider Turk Telekom, told Reuters. Some local media outlets had earlier suspected Russia's hand behind the cyber-attacks as retaliation for Ankara's downing of a Russian jet in November.