Multiple Russian government websites appeared to go offline outside of Russia Thursday as the war in Ukraine continued to unfold — though the exact reasons for the outages were not immediately clear.
A website belonging to the Russian military became inaccessible to users outside of Russia early Thursday evening Eastern European Time, as did the domain for Russia's federal government (albeit briefly) and the English-language version of the Kremlin's website.
According to Doug Madory, an analyst at the internet monitoring firm Kentik, the disruptions are part of a broader pattern of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks targeting Russia's government.
"It is a simultaneous flood of traffic from sources around the world on a specific port ... to a specific set of IP addresses," Madory told CNN. "That isn't a natural flow of internet traffic."
It is unclear who may be responsible for the flood of bogus internet traffic. Other cybersecurity experts expressed doubts that a major DDoS campaign was underway. At least some of the website outages may be the result of Russia's own moves to preempt potential DDoS attacks, three cybersecurity experts told CNN.
Deactivating the websites is a "defensive measure and a means of isolating a portion of the [Russian] Internet," said CNN military analyst Cedric Leighton.
James Lewis, a senior vice president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said Russia likely unplugged its own websites "to reduce risk."
"Nobody has taken credit [for the outages], and people aren't shy about doing that," Lewis said.
Brett Callow, a threat analyst at the information security firm Emsisoft, said it is a common practice for a domain owner to disconnect its own website in the midst of a crisis.
"US companies frequently do a similar thing during ransomware incidents, namely, block all connections from outside the US," Callow said.