Times of Malta is reporting that a Russian criminal group has claimed responsibility for the severe DDOs attack the newspaper has suffered earlier this week. The group is threatening other Maltese websites, public and private.

They describe the attacks as politically motivated. They have nothing against Malta and its people they say, but they are retaliating against supporters of sanctions against Russia.

In other words, they are launching their attacks because they interpret objections to Russia’s invasion and partial occupation of Ukraine as an act of war. They think we’re legitimate targets.

A DDOS attack on Malta’s main source of independent information hurts, perhaps less obviously at first than conventional acts of war. For some time, the news site was down. As they recovered, their defences made the news site harder to access. From many countries abroad, where timesofmalta.com is a vital source of information for Maltese people or for anyone looking to understand what is happening in Malta, the website was inaccessible for a longer period.

Defending yourself from future DDOS attacks is an expense. It’s like having to build walls around a city and keeping them up because you can never tell when an invasion might happen.

It is not surprising that these thugs assaulted our first line of democratic defence. They didn’t attack the customs department first (I mention it because it apparently is in their declared list of targets). They attacked our source of knowledge about what’s happening in our country first.

I know words can be cheap, but they’re all I have. I too think Russia should get out of Ukraine and the threat of retaliation for having that view does not discourage me from saying so. It rather strengthens the opinion I have formed that as a matter of policy Russia will use bullying to get its way.

We’re not living beyond the threats that cast shadows on our life.

I’d be interested to hear how our authorities are protecting us from these assaults. Our right to information is a civilian casualty of this onslaught. It would be comforting to hear what measures are being taken to improve our cyber-security. How safe are we? This war is not that far from us.