Pro-Russian Hackers Take Down German Government Websites

The CyberBerkut hacker group recently claimed responsibility for a series of DDoS attacks that took down German government websites for several hours on January 7, 2015, including those for German chancellor Angela Merkel and the country’s foreign ministry.

The attacks were launched soon before a planned meeting between Merkel and Ukrainian prime minister Arseny Yatseniuk.

While Merkel’s spokesman offered no information on who may have been reponsible, Reuters reports that Yatseniuk told Germany’s ZDF TV, “I strongly recommend that the Russian secret services stop spending taxpayer money for cyber attacks against the Bundestag and Chancellor Merkel’s office.”

In a statement on their website, the hackers claimed, “CyberBerkut has blocked German Chancellor and the Bundestag’s websites,” and added, “The Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk hopes to obtain multi-billion credits from the EU and the IMF. It is obvious how this money will be wasted. Yatsenyuk needs money to extend the war and not to restore collapsed infrastructure of our country.”

Reuters notes that “Berkut” is a reference to the riot squads used by Ukraine’s former pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovich, and that CyberBerkut’s attack was the first successful takedown of German government websites, which are hit by about 3,000 such attacks a day.

“While the attacks on the German government websites are high-profile, they underscore the reality that competition and opposition are using cyberattacks in an effort to further their causes across the entire range of organizations: government, NGO, enterprise, and more,”

RedSeal chief evangelist Steve Hultquist told eSecurity Plant by email that the attacks underscore the reality that all types of organizations are now being targeted by cyber attacks for a wide variety of reasons. “As a result, the requirement to be diligent and prepared is escalating dramatically,” he said.

Defenses that worked well just a few months ago, Hultquist said, are no longer sufficient. “The only way to defend is to be fully prepared, to be completely aware of the current state of all defenses, to know that the entire network and its assets are functioning as expected, and to be sure that everyone who needs to know the situation and address any issues is immediately and completely informed,” he said.

“Virtually everyone is under attack,” Hultquist added. “Being prepared and able to defend is the key.”

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