The European Parliament’s website has suffered a denial-of-service attack by “pro-Kremlin” hackers following a vote designating Russia a state sponsor of terrorism.
The European Parliament’s website was unavailable for several hours on Wednesday 23 November, immediately following the controversial vote.
The attack is known as a Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attack, in which huge amounts of traffic are sent to servers in an attempt to prevent internet users from accessing websites, Marcel Kolaja, Member of the European Parliament for the Czech pirate party, confirmed.
A pro-Russian group called KILLNET appears to have claimed responsibility for the attack in a Telegram post.
The attack was considered a direct response to the designation of Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism. This was stated by members of the bloc Moscow’s military strikes against Ukrainian civilian targets such as energy infrastructure, hospitals, schools and shelters have violated international law.
While not legally binding, the resolution was supported by a large majority of 494 against, 58 against and 48 abstentions, including measures to bring before an international tribunal anyone responsible for war crimes committed since the start of the Russian invasion in February.
“I confirm that Parliament has been the target of an external cyber attack, but the parliamentary services are doing well to defend Parliament,” Dita Charanzová, Czech MEP and Parliament vice-president responsible for cyber security, said in a statement.
Shortly after the website was shut down, European Parliament President Roberta Metsola tweeted: “The European Parliament is the target of a sophisticated cyber-attack. A pro-Kremlin group has claimed responsibility.”
Another senior Parliament official, asking not to be named, told Politico “it could be the most sophisticated attack Parliament has known so far”.
Belgium’s national cybersecurity center confirmed that an EU-wide investigation was underway, but was unable to provide any further information.
Nadir Izrael, co-founder and CTO of Armis Security, commented: “The landscape here is rapidly evolving and has changed tremendously over the past five years, and we as citizens are still not used to the idea that cyber warfare is a legitimate tool that a country can employ – but the truth is, we are all on the first lines.
“Even if the outage itself does not seem serious, a cyber attack on the government can create an underlying fear of chaos among citizens. Every country and organization should think very carefully about its cyber security posture.”
Earlier this month, tThe Australian Signals Directorate’s latest annual Cyber Threat Report has warned that cyber-attacks by criminals and state-sponsored groups have increased significantly in the past financial year, turning cyberspace into the ‘domain of warfare’.
This increase in cybercrime has affected governments and organizations around the world. That of the United Kingdom SSN, of the United States Apple, and also the Albanian government, they have all suffered severe cyberattacks that have disrupted their services and put their users’ personal information at risk.
The European Union agreed in May stricter IT security standards for essential sectors, with companies required to assess their risks, notify authorities and take steps to address the risks or face fines of up to 2% of global turnover.
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