With tensions still high between Turkey and Russia, hackers claiming to be a group of Turkish activists carried out a cyberattack against Russia’s communications minister Sunday, Reuters reported. The attack came in the midst of Moscow's imposition of economic sanctions against Ankara following the late-November downing of a Russian aircraft thatTurkey said entered its sovereign airspace.
The group of hackers, who identified themselves as the Börteçine Cyber Team, blocked Russian Minister Nikolai Nikiforov’s Instagram account, a photo- and video-sharing social media service. They left images of Turkey’s flag, a warplane and Turkey’s founding father, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, on the minister’s account. The account was restored, but Nikiforov complained that it took Instagram nine hours to respond to the hack.
This is not the first episode in an apparent cyberbattle between Moscow and Ankara following the downing of the aircraft. Turkish servers handling hundreds of thousands of websites were hit in late December, prompting speculation of Russian involvement. Turkish banking and financial websites also reported disruptions last month.
Relations between Russia and Turkey have rapidly deteriorated since the Nov. 24, 2015, downing of the Russian military aircraft, which Moscow maintains did not violate Turkish airspace. Moscow has banned Turkish goods such as fruit and vegetables and implemented sanctions targeting Turkish construction firms in Russia, as well as the sale of chartered getaways in Turkey. More than 3 million Russian tourists visited Turkey in 2014.
“There was an initial shock in the sector, but we have recovered from it,” said Muhittin Baran, deputy head of Turkey’s Fruit and Vegetable Markets Association, according to the BBC.
After years of warming relations between the nations, the sanctions are likely to hurt Turkey’s economy more than Russia’s, said experts, who have estimated the sanctions could result in a $10 billion loss in business for Turkey.
Russia has been accused of mounting cyberattacks against other states, with Ukraine launching an investigation last week over an electricity outage it claims came from hackers in Russia.