Cyber-attacks and Power-failure: Disrupters of ICT use in Warning Dissemination

We have been monitoring the accessibility of the Myanmar and Maldives SAMBRO servers. Our remote server, in Singapore, pings each of the servers every 10 minutes and logs whether the server was accessible over the Internet or not. Accessibility has been extremely poor in both countries over the past 20 days. We found out that in the case of Maldives their Internet Service Provider (ISP) was a victim of a cyber-attack and Myanmar is troubled with frequent power-failures.


Maldives

Having observed the intermittent accessibility to the Dhandhaana server, we asked the National Disaster Management Center what was happening. They said that their ISP was harmed by a Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) attack.

The frequency of server access failure chart shows the accessibility to fluctuate (green means accessible and white means inaccessible). That is when the attack started. The bar chart (red) indicating the percentage of time the access failed each day to be over 90%. After a few days of experiencing the attack the system was completely turned off for several days until the ISPs could regain control.

Dhandhaana’s ISP was not alone but all ISPs supported by Dhiraghu Telecom Service Provider were affected. Maldives Independent published an article saying that Nation-wide attack degraded all  Maldivian telecom services.

Such attacks are typically targeted at banks. The technique typically uses “bots” (or zombies), distributed on a multitude of servers, to continuously bombard a targeted domain with network pings to congest the Internet making it impossible for others to access.

The ITU Cyber-Security working group recommends National Strategy guidelines that introduce a collection of tools, policies, security concepts, security safeguards, guidelines, risk management approaches, actions, training, best practices, assurance and technologies that can be used to protect the cyber environment and organization and user’s assets. The guidelines on cyber security emphasizes on securing critical infrastructure and emergency services as one of the key sectors.

Myanmar

Myanmar could very easily be a victim of a DDOS again. However, their current dilemma is maintaining the continuity of Internet access to their data center. Power failures are quite frequent that disrupt the Internet service.

Although the Department of Meteorology and Hydrology has a diesel generator, for backup power, and servers are coupled with UPS units, it is the Internet connection that is the key disruption. The connection between the ISP and DMH fails when the power on either end is unstable. The graphs to the left show that they have good days and bad days (i.e. on good days with 100% access all day). Overall the downtime is around 60%.

This work was carried out by Sahana Research and Action.

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