Latvia repulsed election day cyber-attack

While the hacking of a social media site in Latvia on Saeima election day, October 6, made headlines, in fact the country was subjected to - and successfully repulsed - a wider cyber attack, reports Olga Dragileva of LTV's De Facto weekly investigative show.

As LSM reported on election day, the popular Draugiem social networking site was briefly hacked, and pro-Russian messages posted, though no user data was compromised according to the company that runs the service. It is now functioning normally again. Responsibility for the attack has yet to be established.

But according to De Facto, a larger and sophisticated cyber-assault was under way at the same time, with government institutions and important internet servers targeted, including the infrastructure of the Central Election Commission which was conducting the election. However the attack was unsuccessful and had no impact on the election.

"The attempt was quite intensive and lasted into the middle of the next day," Varis Teivāns, deputy director of the CERT.lv national cyber security agency told De Facto, "It started the day before the election."

The source of the attack, and whether it might have come from a state-backed group, has not been established, but according to Teivāns those behind it showed high levels of technical knowledge and were clearly not amateurs.

Nor has CERT.lv been allowed much rest since the attack. On October 16 it issued an official warning telling members of the public to beware of a bogus offer via the WhatsApp messaging service of tickets to a concert by pop star Ed Sheeran, who is playing at Lucavsala, Rīga next year.

"CERT.lv has received several reports of fraudulent lottery in the WhatsApp application, which promises [the user] to receive two free tickets to the Ed Sheeran concert in Lucavsala. But the only thing you can really get in this "lottery" is a big mobile phone bill," the agency warned. 

 

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