German airports hit by DDoS attack, ‘Anonymous Russia’ claims responsibility

It’s been a difficult week for German airlines.

A day after a major IT failure at Lufthansa left thousands of passengers stranded, the websites of seven airports were hit by a suspected cyberattack.

Among the airports affected by a “large-scale DDoS [distributed denial-of-service] attack” on Thursday were Dusseldorf, Nuremberg, Erfurt-Weimar and Dortmund, according to Ralph Beisel, chief executive of the ADV airport association.

The airports’ websites were temporarily down, but are up and running again as of Friday. The websites of Germany’s biggest airports in Frankfurt, Munich and Berlin were not targeted.

On Wednesday, the pro-Russian hacker group Killnet told Russian media that it was responsible for the IT outage at Lufthansa.

Lufthansa, however, blamed the outage on damaged broadband cables mistakenly cut on the railway line during construction work.

Hackers said they “killed” Lufthansa’s network with a three-million-requests-per-second DDoS attack in retaliation for Germany’s support for Ukraine. Earlier this month, Germany promised to supply Ukraine with long-awaited Leopard tanks.

This would not be the first time Killnet has taken credit for system failures and cyberattacks that likely didn’t happen or were unsuccessful.

Meanwhile, a group calling itself “Anonymous Russia” took responsibility for cyberattacks on German airports. “Germany has non-flying weather again,” the hackers said on Telegram alongside a list of their alleged victims.

Hackers have also attacked airports outside of Germany and across Europe and in the Middle East this week.

On Tuesday, a group calling itself “Anonymous Sudan” claimed responsibility for a cyberattack on Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) that knocked its website offline and exposed some customer data.

The group blamed the burning of a Quran during demonstrations in January protests in Stockholm for motivating the attacks.

Pro-Russian hackers said on Telegram they were helping Anonymous Sudan attack SAS’ airport websites.

Hackers from a group called Al-Toufan claimed responsibility for taking down websites for Bahrain’s international airport, its state news agency, and a chamber of commerce. They said it was to mark the 12-year anniversary of the country’s Arab Spring uprisings.

In addition to the cyberattacks, German airport workers went on a full-day strike on Friday calling for a pay rise.

“The seven major airports are paralyzed all day, more than 2,300 flights are canceled and all of Germany is cut off from international air traffic,” ADV CEO Beisel said in a statement on Facebook. Almost 300,000 passengers will miss their flights due to a strike, he added.

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Daryna Antoniuk

Daryna Antoniuk

is a reporter for Recorded Future News based in Ukraine. She writes about cybersecurity startups, cyberattacks in Eastern Europe and the state of the cyberwar between Ukraine and Russia. She previously was a tech reporter for Forbes Ukraine. Her work has also been published at Sifted, The Kyiv Independent and The Kyiv Post.