Several employees of the Norwegian Parliament (Stortinget) and elected Members of Parliament have become targets of an extensive hacking attack on their “stortinget.no” email accounts. The attack reportedly was spread over MPs from various political parties including Labour, the Conservatives and the Center Party.
“We are viewing this as extremely serious,” Marianne Andreassen, the top administrative executive at the Parliament, stated in a press release Tuesday afternoon. She said email accounts were broken into, with the violations first registered last week.
“Unauthorized log-ins” were registered in what the Parliament’s administration first referred to, in an email of their own obtained by newspaper VG, as a relatively small number of MPs’ and employees’ email accounts. “Our analysis shows that various amounts of data had been downloaded” from the email accounts.
Andreassen said the Parliament’s staff immediately launched “a series of risk-reduction measures to stop the attacks” that reportedly has helped. On Tuesday the Parliament formally reported the attacks to the police.
“Our full attention is directed on analyzing the situation and getting a full picture of the incident and the extent of potential damange,” Andreassen wrote in Tuesday’s press release. All MPs and employees who’ve been subjected to the attack have been contacted and will receive follow-up assistance over the next several days.
She later told reporters that she didn’t have much to add yet. “Irregularities” had been detected last week, she told VG, “and we took immediate contact with the data security authorities.” She wouldn’t go into detail about the “irregularities” or exactly how they were detected.
The Parliament’s director wouldn’t comment on what kind of content was downloaded during the attack, who was targeted or who may be behind the attacks. She insisted, however, that security at the Parliament “was good.” At the same time, Norwegian officials are constantly facing “demanding threat potential, and we make ongoing risk evaluations and take measures to ensure that we have good security.”
The president of the Parliament, Tone Wilhelmsen Trøen of the Conservative Party, confirmed the attacks had been reported to the police and an investigation was underway. “So we hope we get some answers about what happened,” Trøen said.
Norway’s national security authority NSM (Nasjonal sikkerhetsmyndighet) is also involved in the probe and in follow-up efforts to boost security. It remained unclear whether the attack was directed specifically at the Parliament or whether it was a part of more widespread hacking. Norway’s police intelligence agency PST has also been made aware of the attack.
The Labour Party’s communications chief Jarle Roheim Håkonsen confirmed to state broadcaster NRK Tuesday after that both Labour employees and politicians have been hit. “We don’t know exactly how many people are affected,” Håkonsen said, adding that he wasn’t aware whether any sensitive information had been stolen.