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Georgian police investigate massive cyber attack

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TBILISI (Reuters) – Georgian police are investigating a massive coordinated cyber attack that took thousands of websites offline and could have been carried out from abroad, the interior ministry said on Tuesday.

Thousands of state, private and media websites were knocked out on Monday and their home pages made to display an image of former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili holding a poster saying “I’ll be back!”

The attack targeted websites including those of the president’s office, local municipality offices and two private television stations.

“The cyber attack could have been carried out (from) either inside or outside the country,” the interior ministry said.

In 2008, Georgia accused Russia of hacking hundreds of Georgian websites during a short war between the two countries over a breakaway Georgian region.

The Kremlin denied the hacking allegation. Diplomatic ties were severed at the time and have not been restored since.

Saakashvili, whose image was used during the attack, served as Georgia’s president during the war, but now resides outside the country and faces criminal charges at home.

Most of the websites affected by the attack should be back online by the end of Tuesday, ProService, a Georgian web design and host providing company, said.

Police are working together with law enforcement agencies in other partner countries, the interior ministry said in the same statement.

(Reporting by Margarita Antidze; Writing by Margarita Antidze and Tom Balmforth; Editing by Andrew Osborn)

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