Norway investigates cyberattack affecting 12 government ministries
The Norwegian police are investigating a cyberattack uncovered earlier this month that affected the IT systems used by a dozen government ministries.
Norway’s Office of the Prime Minister, as well as its foreign, defense, and justice ministries, were not affected by the hack because they use a different IT platform, said Erik Hope, head of the government agency in charge of providing security and services to the ministries, during a press briefing on Monday.
According to Hope, the hackers exploited a now-patched vulnerability in the platform of one of the government’s suppliers. The government’s security specialists identified the attack following "unusual" traffic on the supplier's platform. Hope declined to provide more details until the investigation is over.
The attack didn’t disrupt the government’s operation. As a result of the hack, employees of several Norwegian ministries couldn’t access some shared services on their mobile phones, including email, but they could still use work devices without issue, Norwegian cybersecurity officials said.
The extent of the attack and the group behind it is unknown. Norwegian security officials said during the press conference that they have implemented “a number of measures” in response to the attack.
“We are taking this incident very seriously,” said Sigbjørn Gjelsvik, Norway’s minister of local government and regional development.
The Norwegian security authority did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Norway, a NATO member and Europe's largest gas supplier, has been a popular target among hackers recently. Earlier this month the Norwegian Refugee Council discovered a cyberattack targeting an online database that stores the personal information of project participants.
The Norwegian recycling and mining corporation Tomra also warned about an “extensive” cyberattack affecting its systems this month.
Last June, Norway suffered a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack, blamed on a "criminal pro-Russian group." Norway’s prime minister Jonas Gahr Støre warned later in the year that Russia posed “a real and serious threat” to the country’s oil and gas industry.
Daryna Antoniuk is a freelance 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.