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.”
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.
Pierluigi Paganini is member of the ENISA (European Union Agency for Network and Information Security) Threat Landscape Stakeholder Group and Cyber G7 Group, he is also a Security Evangelist, Security Analyst and Freelance Writer.
Editor-in-Chief at "Cyber Defense Magazine", Pierluigi is a cyber security expert with over 20 years experience in the field, he is Certified Ethical Hacker at EC Council in London. The passion for writing and a strong belief that security is founded on sharing and awareness led Pierluigi to find the security blog "Security Affairs" recently named a Top National Security Resource for US.
Pierluigi is a member of the "The Hacker News" team and he is a writer for some major publications in the field such as Cyber War Zone, ICTTF, Infosec Island, Infosec Institute, The Hacker News Magazine and for many other Security magazines.
Author of the Books "The Deep Dark Web" and “Digital Virtual Currency and Bitcoin”.