Austrian Foreign Ministry Hit By Cyber Attack



High-level networks used by the Austrian Government has been hit by a cyberattack said to originate from a foreign nation-state.


The attack, which was directed at the Austrian Foreign Ministry was said to have been launched over the weekend on Saturday evening. A spokesperson from the Ministry described the attack as “serious”, adding that experts were predicting the attack could continue over a number of days.



“Despite all intensive security measures, there is never 100 percent protection against cyber-attacks.” - Austrian Foreign Ministry



According to reports, the timing is ominous, considering that “on the same day the attack was launched, at a congress held in the city of Salzburg, Austria’s Green Party said that it was in favor of forming a coalition with the conservative People’s Party.”


“The ministry said that the attack had been caught early and countermeasures had immediately been put in place. The signatures and the pattern of the attack suggest that it could be the work of a state-sponsored threat actor,” writes Info Security Magazine’s Sarah Coble.


In a statement released by the Ministry, a spokesperson said that “despite all intensive security measures, there is never 100 percent protection against cyber-attacks,” adding that a number of European nations had been hit by similar attacks in recent months.



“It is true that despite the precautions taken and all the controls in place, a motivated attacker can always find a way through an organisation’s defenses.” - Hugu van den Toorn.



Hugo van den Toorn, manager of offensive security at Outpost24 told local media outlets that “it is true that despite the precautions taken and all the controls in place, a motivated attacker can always find a way through an organisation’s defenses. Although we see an increase in politically motivated attacks over the past few years, we should remain vigilant in blaming certain actors or nation-states.”


Van den Toorn continued to explain that “as we also see that attribution remains difficult with cyberattacks, past attacks have taught us that adversaries will attempt to make their attacks look like other actors in an attempt to avoid taking the blame or to provoke conflicting parties.”


The attack on Austria’s Foreign Ministry mirrors that of recent attacks on the German government’s IT network that transpired in March of 2018. In that attack, a number of Russian-backed hackers nicknamed ‘APT28’ or ‘Fancy Bear’ was said to be responsible for the hack, as well as a 2015 attack on the German parliament.

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