The government’s IT systems withstood a cyber attack which attempted to block the release of election results on Sunday.
Authorities were on alert throughout election day after a group of hackers threatened to disrupt the elections by targeting state websites. A video posted on Saturday on the Internet by a group claiming to be the Cyprus branch of ‘Anonymous’ called on sympathisers to launch the attack at exactly 6pm on Sunday – the designated deadline for the start of the ballot count. Interior Ministry officials claim that these sorts of attacks happen sporadically, while police re-assured the public that it would be extra vigilant during the run-up to the second round of elections this coming Sunday. “There was a DDOS (distributed denial of service) attack, also known as a cyber attack on Sunday, in an attempt to prevent the interior ministry from showing the results but also unauthorised attempts to reach other sites that were related to the elections,” chief official for the Department of Information Technology Services (DITS), Andreas Kyprianou said.
He revealed the department prevented any kind of attack by using the technology it possesses. “We always take every necessary measure to ensure the smooth-running of government online services,” he added. Kyprianou stated that the attempted breaches of security of websites are common, especially during an election process. “We cannot know for sure whether the known hacker group ‘Anonymous’ were responsible for yesterdays attack,” he remarked.
Kyprianou explained that DITS is constantly taking measures to protect government websites, not only during election-time. “We are responsible for the smooth-running of government online services, 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 52 weeks a year,” he said.
After reports emerged on Saturday that ‘Anonymous’ were planning an attack, Police Chief Michalis Papageorgiou contacted chief returning officer, Andreas Assiotis, to make sure all possible measures were taken to prevent any attack.