A highly sophisticated cyber-attack likely to be state-sponsored has been discovered targeting the emails of Czech Foreign Ministry staff ahead of major elections in the country this year, it has been revealed.
Foreign minister, Lubomir Zaoralek, told the press on Tuesday that the hackers weren’t able to get hold of any classified information, although it’s believed they may have been inside the government systems for some time and he is playing down the seriousness of the attack.
Other local reports claim that the attackers managed to download emails from the minister and his deputy, in what they described as “the biggest security scandal of recent years.”
They also suggest that the hackers may have been looking for data on Czech allies – hence the focus on the Foreign Ministry.
Zaoralek said the cyber intrusion was similar to the one which compromised the Democractic National Committee (DNC) ahead of the presidential election, adding that it “was very sophisticated and probably carried out by a state-like actor,” according to the New York Times.
That attack has been linked by US intelligence agencies to the Kremlin, which will be the number one suspect in this raid, coming as it does ahead of major legislative elections in the Czech Republic in October.
It will never be clear exactly what effect on the voting intentions of the US public the damaging DNC leaks had, but it can’t have hindered president Trump’s chances of victory.
The allegations of Russian-sponsored hacking have lingered, especially after new evidence came to light that the Kremlin may have compromising information on the former reality TV star which could be used to blackmail him.
All of Europe seems to have eyes on the potential threat posed by Russian hackers ahead of big elections this year.
France will elect a new President in May, while Germany’s federal elections will be held in September and the Netherlands' in March.
A report from cyber intelligence firm ThreatConnect in December claimed president Putin has overseen a new strategy of “faketivism” – using invented hacktivist personas such as Guccifer 2.0 to leak sensitive info obtained by state hackers to the public.
James Romer, chief security architect at SecureAuth, argued that password-based authentication systems have made the job much easier for hackers.
“Organizations cannot rely on employees to remember numerous passwords in their active online lifestyles. Instead they need to be encouraging a move away from the current reliance on a single point of authentication,” he told Infosecurity.