The Norwegian Parliament was hit with a “significant” cyberattack that affected email accounts of a “small number” of members and employees, the Parliament disclosed on Tuesday. The hackers stole different amounts data from each account, as per the Storting (the Norwegian Parliament). Reuters first reported the development.
The full extent of the damage is currently not known, Storting’s director Marianne Andreassen said. As per the Reuters report, the perpetrators of the attack and what data was extracted is not known. Andreassen said that immediate measures were taken to stop the attack and they had “an immediate effect”. The parliament’s IT staff shut down its email service to prevent hackers from stealing more data, ZDNet reported citing local press.
All members of the Parliament and employees who were affected by the attack — the number of which is not known — have been contacted and the Parliament’s administration will follow up with them in the coming days, as per the press release. Reuters reported that several members and staff of Norway’s main opposition Labour Party had been affected, citing a party spokesperson who told this to the public broadcaster NRK.
Storting did not disclose when the attack was first discovered but said that the administration reported the matter to the police on September 1 and has had close contact with “relevant security authorities” about this. The Norwegian National Security Authority (NSA), which heads all IT-related matters of national security including the country’s CERT, has reportedly been involved in “assisting parliament with analysis and technical assistance” for a few days.
After the disclosure by the Storting, Norway’s Police Security Service (PST), which is the country’s intelligence service, tweeted that it was aware of the cyberattack and would assess the “need for an investigation” after receiving the report.
Parliaments in UK, Australia have been affected by cyberattacks
In June 2017, the British Parliament was hit by a “sustained and determined” cyberattack by hackers who attempted to gain access to MPs’ and their employees’ email accounts and identify accounts with weak passwords. About 90 email accounts had reportedly been compromised, but brute force attempts were made to guess passwords of 9,000 accounts. Eventually, the British intelligence attributed the attack to Iran but the government never went publicly on record with its attribution. A similar attack was also launched against the Scottish Parliament in August 2017.
In February 2019, a “sophisticated state actor” had carried out a “malicious intrusion” into Australia’s main political parties and parliament. Reuters had later reported that Australian intelligence concluded China was responsible for the attack but the report itself was never made public and none of the five people Reuters spoke to were attributed.