Pro-Russian Hackers Hit Critical Government Websites in Italy

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Pro-Russian hackers have targeted the websites of various Italian institutions and government ministries, law enforcement said on Friday.

The attack, which began on Thursday evening and was still in progress as of Friday early afternoon, was reportedly confirmed by Italy’s Postal Police.

The attack was launched at around 20:00 GMT on Thursday by the hacker group "Killnet," Italian cyber-security group Yarix said in a statement.

Among the approximately 50 institutions reportedly hit are Italy’s superior council of the judiciary, its customs agency and its foreign affairs, education and cultural heritage ministries.

On Friday, shortly before 12pm GMT, Italy’s embassy in London tweeted that the websites of the country’s foreign ministry and all its embassies had been hit and were currently inoperable:

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs website and consular applications at this location have been affected by a cyber attack,” the tweet read.

“We apologize to users for inconveniences and delays in the processing of paperwork.”

Killnet also launched attacks in early May targeting Italy’s upper house of parliament, the National Health Institute (ISS) and the Automobile Club d’Italia.

In April, cybersecurity agencies in the US, UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand issued a warning to organizations beyond Ukraine’s borders that they may soon be targeted by pro-Russian hackers.

The so-called “Five Eyes” intelligence group published its most detailed threat assessment on April 21, including information on Kremlin-backed units and cybercrime groups that have pledged to support Russia.

The report claimed that the cybercrime groups that could threaten Western critical infrastructure (CNI) organizations include data leak extortionists the CoomingProject, DDoS-ers Killnet, Emotet operators Mummy and Sality botnet developer Salty Spider.

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