Information Warfare: Armenia-Azerbaijan cyber war intensifies amid Karabakh clashes

As fighting rages in Nagorno-Karabakh frontlines, the information war waged by Armenia and Azerbaijan in the cyber space also appears to have intensified.

Armenia has accused Azerbaijani hackers of unleashing new DDoS attacks against its government and news websites, which it says, however, have not been particularly successful so far.

Meanwhile, information security experts in Armenia say Azeri hacktivists have also tried to “target” the Armenian segment of social media as well as news reporting sites by disseminating fake reports and misinformation about the situation on the ground and allegedly high casualties among Armenian soldiers on the frontlines.

The Armenian Cyber Army, meanwhile, also claims to have hacked a number of official and news reporting websites in Azerbaijan as well as the Twitter page of Azerbaijan’s Embassy in Moscow, Russia.

Yerevan-based information security expert Samvel Martirosyan says members of the Armenian public should be careful in choosing sources of their information especially after April 2 when Azerbaijan renewed hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh.

“These days have seen an increased flow of misinformation in the media space. Footage showing brutal scenes and dead bodies goes viral. But if you take a careful look at it you’ll see that most of the images were taken during the conflict in [the south-eastern Ukrainian region of] Donbass,” he said.

Martirosyan believes that Azerbaijan does not possess enough resources for a serious cyber war. At the same time, he urges social media users in Armenia not to trust unfamiliar users online.

He says that some fake users have been sending short online messages to Armenians, including in the Diaspora, pretending to be mothers of soldiers who don’t hear from their sons in the frontlines and ask for money to be transferred to their telephone numbers. “One should not trust such social media accounts…At this moment we are not aware of any family in Armenia that could not afford to get in touch with their sons serving in the army,” Martirosyan told Armenpress news agency.

Artsrun Hovhannisyan, a spokesman for Armenia’s defense minister, meanwhile, has expressing satisfaction with the “clear and balanced” behavior of the Armenian media, saying that some have made “considerable progress” in avoiding “enemy information traps” as compared to previous years.