There have been confirmed reports, from Burma’s authorities, that in the run up to the national elections that  an internet based attack, designed to disrupt internet communication services, called a distributed denial of service attack (DDoS) has taken place and continues to do so.

The natural assumption, given Burma’s recent turbulent history, is that dissident groups have launched an attack on Burma’s ability to utilise the web. This is a reasonable assumption. Networks of compromised computers, belonging to individuals, businesses and governments, are routinely rented out to whoever can pay for them and for whatever purpose they wish. Though I’m left wondering whether Burmese dissidents have access to sufficient funding? Payment need not necessarily be in hard currency though. An IOU with interest, offered to a criminal gang running a bot net, to help dislodge the current incumbent power base, could provide a very high return on investment.

Alternatively maybe it is an attack by a nation state with a foreign policy of stealthy aggression or intervention towards the Burmese government. There have been recent high profile incidents of cyber threats becoming a new foreign policy tool. Many suggest that such techniques have been used for some considerable time. It’s more plausible than most realise.

Finally there is also the possibility that the Burmese authorities have conducted cyberselfharm. That is to say couldn’t a cyber attack, which prevents communication within Burma and just as importantly between Burma and the outside world, be an effective and low cost solution to suppressing the flow of information in the run up to the countries first elections since the widely reported troubles last year? After all the current government has banned all foreign media and internal observers.   Blocking web traffic would be a natural extension of this policy towards the suppression of information.