DDoS attack takes down two election websites in Czech Republic

24 Oct 2017

Prague, Czech Republic. Image: DaLiu/Shutterstock

Cyberattacks are growing increasingly prevalent within governmental systems.

Elections held in the Czech Republic on 20 and 21 October of this year saw an increasingly fragmented parliament appear in the wake of the process. Indeed, analysis from The Washington Post paints a picture of a country whose election results show deep divides along multiple fault lines.

According to CNBC, two websites run by the Czech Statistical Office (CSU) were taken offline after unnamed hackers carried out a DDoS (distributed denial of service) attack in an effort to disrupt the reporting of the results.

A targeted attack

Infosecurity Magazine reported that the CSU made this statement on its website: “During the processing, there was a targeted DDoS attack aimed at the infrastructure of the O2 company used for elections. As a result, servers volby.cz and volbyhned.cz had been temporarily partly inaccessible.”

The statement was clear that the results of the vote were not affected by the attack, and both sites are now up and running as usual. “The attack did not in any way affect either the infrastructure used for the transmission of election results to the CSU headquarters, or the independent data processing.”

Political emails stolen from officials in Czech Republic

The prospective prime minister Andrej Babiš is a polarising figure in the country, and is currently facing fraud charges.

The billionaire’s populist ANO party won the Czech parliamentary elections with nearly 30pc of the vote. People are speculating that the hackers carried out the attack in relation to his victory at the polls, although that is not yet clear.

According to Teiss, the Czech National Cyber and Information Security Agency has launched an investigation into the incident in conjunction with local law enforcement agencies.

This is not the first cyberattack on Czech political infrastructure this yearDeutsche Welle reported earlier in 2017 that an attack targeted the private emails of as many as 168 email accounts belonging to parliamentarians, stealing more than 7,000 diplomatic documents from political servers.

European concerns around further attacks

In September of this year, the European Commission published multiple new documents concerning cybersecurity reform across the entire EU, including recommendations in terms of a coordinated response blueprint for member states in the event of a multiple-target attack.

It also proposed to build a stronger EU cybersecurity agency on the structures of the existing European Union Agency for Network and Information Security.

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects