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Austrian foreign ministry hit by cyberattack

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The Austrian government is facing a serious cyberattack which could last for days.

The country’s foreign ministry issued a statement in which it claims the attack is serous and could have been initiated by another country.

"Due to the gravity and nature of the attack, it cannot be excluded that it is a targeted attack by a state actor," it said in a joint statement with the Interior Ministry on Saturday. The report adds that the assault, which started on Saturday is ongoing.

The media were quick to point out that Austria’s Green party backed forming a coalition with the conservatives on the same day.

The government added that the assault was spotted and acted upon quickly, without going into further details. What we do know is that a “coordination committee” was created, but we don’t know who’s in it or what its goal is.

The government also pointed out that in some cases there’s no way to prevent an attack from happening. "Despite all intensive security measures, there is never 100 per cent protection against cyber-attacks," the ministry said.

Governments are often targets of state-sponsored actors, be it for espionage purposes, data theft or simple destruction. Germany was attacked in March 2018, with Russian criminals accused of the attack.

Commenting on the attack, Hugo van den Toorn, manager of offensive security at Outpost24, said businesses should "remain vigilant in blaming certain threat actors or nation-states". 

"We see that attribution remains difficult with cyberattacks, past attacks learn that adversaries will attempt to make their attacks look like other actors in an attempt to avoid taking the blame or to provoke conflicting parties."