New cyber attacks hit Norway

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Norwegian authorities were busy fending off a new wave of virus assaults on key computer systems this summer. It’s the first time that Norwegian companies have been hit by the new form of cyber attacks aimed at critical community functions.

Newspaper Aftenposten reported over the weekend that Norway’s National Security Authority (Nasjonal sikkerhetsmyndighet, NSM) discovered so-called “trojans” in the form of viruses aimed at seizing control of a company’s or agency’s internal systems.

NSM officials won’t identify which targets were hit, and they don’t know who launched the assaults.

NSM is, however, issuing warnings to such companies as utilities that deliver electricity, oil companies, water and sewage treatment plants, government offices and transportation companies and agencies.

The virus assaults launched during the summer affected as many as 12 companies, with a system delivered from industrial giant Siemens being a key target, reports Aftenposten. Siemens’ system, Simatic WinCC, is used by at least 200 companies in Norway that operate in the oil sector, power supply and the metals industry. Many government municipalities use it, too.

“Customers who were infiltrated got help quickly and their problems are now solved,” Christian Jahr, a Siemens spokesman, told Aftenposten.

The authorities remains shaken by the assaults, some of which are linked simply to use of USB memory sticks that were infiltrated with a virus. Jahr said it was activated when inserted into a personal computer that had WinCC installed, and shows how “awake” users must be to the threats posed by such use.

The assaults may be motivated by attempts at industrial espionage, extortion or sabotage. “This was the first time we’ve seen trojans specially designed to take control of process and control systems,” Christophe Birkeland of NSM told Aftenposten. He said there were no reports of actual damage.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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