Austria’s foreign ministry is facing a ‘serious cyberattack’

Pierluigi Paganini January 05, 2020

Austria’s foreign ministry announced it was facing a “serious cyberattack” and that it could be the work of a nation-state actor.

Austria’s foreign ministry was the victim of a cyber-attack that is suspected to have been conducted by a foreign state due to its level of sophistication.

“Due to the gravity and nature of the attack, it cannot be ruled out that this is a targeted attack by a state actor,” the foreign ministry said in a joint statement with the interior ministry.

“Despite all the intensive security measures, there is no 100-percent protection against cyberattacks.”

The attack took place on the evening of Saturday 4 January evening and it was quickly detected. Authorities immediately adopted the defensive measures to protect their infrastructure, it also set up a special committee to respond to the incident. It is not clear if the hackers gained access to sensitive data.

At the time of writing, on Sunday, the attack was still ongoing, ministry spokesman Peter Guschelbauer told public broadcaster ORF.

“The duration of the attack can currently not be estimated, said Guschelbauer.” reported the broadcaster ORF.  “The problem was recognized very quickly and technical countermeasures were initiated immediately, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of the Interior announced in a press release late on Saturday evening.”

Media pointed out that the attack took place on the same day Austria’s Green party backed forming a coalition with conservatives.

Major cyber ​​attacks are a rarity in Austria, only a few large-scale attacks were observed in the past years. In September 2019, before the National Council election, the ÖVP was hit by a “very targeted hacker attack” on the party headquarters. 

In 2018, the websites of the parliament and various ministries in Austria were targeted by DDoS attacks (Distributed Denial of Service). 

Other European countries suffered similar attacks in the past, in 2015 more than 20,000 computers belonging to the German Bundestag were infected with malware. Experts and media reported a possible involvement of Russian state-sponsored hackers

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Pierluigi Paganini

(SecurityAffairs – Austria’s foreign ministry, hacking)

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