Several of Norway’s most important institutions, including the foreign and defense ministries, have been warned by state police intelligence PST that they’ve been subjected to a major Russian hacker attack. PST was hit as well, and describes the attack as “malicious and vicious.”
PST (Politiets sikkerhetstjeneste) said it was itself warned of the attack by a another unidentified intelligence service with which it cooperates. The hacker group has been identified as a group known as APT29, also known as Cozy or Fancy Bear, and tied to the Russian intelligence service FSB.
TV2 reported on Thursday that PST had warned the Norwegian Labour Party’s parliamentary group that it had been the target of an attack coming in the form of emails that seem to come from trustworthy contacts and contain an attachment. If the recipient clicks on the attachment, the hackers reportedly can gain control of their computers.
Now it’s been confirmed that the Labour Party wasn’t the only target. “Individuals in the Foreign Ministry, the Labour Party and the defense department have been targeted for digital attack,” Arne Christian Haugstøyl, section chief at PST, told state broadcaster NRK Friday evening. An unidentified Norwegian college and the state nuclear regulatory agency (Statens Strålevern) were also targeted.
It remains unclear whether any of the attacks actually succeeded. A Foreign Ministry spokesman confirmed that attempts had been made to hack into the email of certain individuals working in the ministry, “but we aren’t aware that they have succeeded in getting into the computer system.”
Justice Minister Per-Willy Amundsen was calling for caution on the part of all Norwegians when dealing with their email. “We as citizens must digest the fact that this (digital attacks meant to harm Norway) is a new development,” Amundsen told NRK. “We must be alert and not naive.”
The news of the attacks comes just after PST had delivered its annual briefing on threats against Norway this week. The two biggest threats, according to PST, are Islamic extremists and Russia.