Estonia asks for Russian help to find Web criminals

HELSINKI (Reuters) - Estonia is seeking help from Russia to find the culprits behind a massive wave of attacks on the country’s Internet infrastructure, Prime Minister Andrus Ansip said on Wednesday.

The cyber attacks coincided with a sharp deterioration in relations between Moscow and the small Baltic state over Estonia’s decision to relocate a Soviet-era war memorial from the centre of the capital Tallinn.

The decision enraged Moscow, which threatened sanctions.

The cyber attacks hit web sites across the country, from newspapers to schools to the defense ministry, and appear to have stemmed initially from Russia, where the Kremlin has denied waging a “cyber-war” against Estonia.

“It is clear this is criminal activity. I hope Russia will co-operate in those cases with Estonia,” Ansip told a news conference in Helsinki.

The cyber attack became so severe in early May that Estonia’s recently formed Computer Emergency Response Team had to resort to blocking foreign access to Estonian servers.

“It is absolutely clear it was a well-orchestrated attack against an independent country,” Ansip said.

Network specialists said the attacks consisted of a barrage of clicks on a given website, leading to overload. Some sites faced up to 5 million clicks a second, Ansip said, compared with a normal level of 1,000 to 1,500 clicks a day.

The attacks peaked on May 8 and 9 -- during events in Russia and the Baltics marking the anniversary of the World War Two victory over the Nazis.