Heavy cyber-attacks and fake news did not silence investigate media in Kyrgyzstan

19 December 2019

  • Media investigating high-level corruption in Kyrgyzstan were heavily attacked, but not silenced
  • Denial of Service attacks against Kloop Media reached 65 Gbps, according to Qurium’s forensics report
  • During the cyber-attacks, a cloned news site published fake news, accusing journalists of murdering the whistleblower of the corruption case.

All started with a joint investigation into corruption at Kyrgyz customs released by Azattyk, Kloop Media and OCCRP that ended with a lawsuit filed by the Matraimovs family (Raimbek Matraimov, a powerful former deputy head of the country’s customs service). On 17th of December several news websites were attacked by large Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks. Additionally, a cloned website of an existing Turkish news site created, where “fake news” was published, accusing Radio Liberty (Azattyk) journalists of the murder of a whistleblower, which played a key role in the corruption case.

The cyber-attacks were launched for hours, targeting the publication of an article by Factcheck.kg which estimated the money spent on luxury watches, clothes and cars by the Matraimov family. All the media that re-printed the article were attacked with DDoS. The attacks increased in intensity when the attacker realized that Kloop remained online.

According to Qurium, who are hosting Kloop.kg, the attacks were originated by the DDoS service Booter.pw. The attacks reached 65 Gbps and lasted 5 hours. However, it was not enough to silence Kloop as they stayed online.

Qurium’s forensics report: DDoS and fake websites in Kyrgyzstan did not silence investigatory journalism


Digital forensics: Tord Lundström, Qurium Media Foundation <t@virtualroad.org>

Media: Clara Zid, Qurium Media Foundation <info@virtualroad.org>