Czech Ministry Suffered Cyber-Attack Possibly From Foreign State

  • Hackers accessed e-mail accounts of dozens of employees
  • No classified information was contained in breached accounts
Source: Getty Images

Hackers possibly working for a foreign state breached the e-mail accounts of dozens of employees of the Czech Foreign Ministry in a cyber-attack similar to that conducted against the U.S. Democratic Party, the country’s top diplomat said.

No classified data was stolen during the attacks, which took several weeks, Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek said Tuesday. The servers containing sensitive communications were physically separate from those that were breached, he said.

“The character of the attack was very sophisticated,” Zaoralek said, citing Czech cyber-warfare experts. “In their view, it must have been conducted by some foreign state -- from abroad. They also said that the method of the attack very much resembled attacks against the internet system of the Democratic Party in the U.S.”

U.S. intelligence officials have blamed Russia for hacking the e-mail servers of the Democratic Party in an operation they say was authorized by their Cold War adversary’s most senior officials to help Donald Trump defeat Hillary Clinton in last year’s presidential election. Russia denied the allegations and didn’t retaliate to sanctions and the expulsion of 35 diplomats from the U.S. imposed by Barack Obama’s administration at the end of last year. The Czech Republic, an ex-communist country of 10.7 million people that’s now a member of NATO and the European Union, is holding general elections this fall.

In the run-up to the vote, the government has tried to counter what it has called a wave of false information and propaganda, establishing a communications center last year staffed with experts who work with police, army and secret services to identify and point out false stories in media and on social networks. The center has been strongly criticized by President Milos Zeman, an open supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who called the practice “censorship.”

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