Lithuanian defense minister: We fell victim to a large-scale cyberattack

The attack included use of fake information and hacking of websites

Lithuania came under one of its "biggest and most complex" cyberattacks in recent years earlier this month, according to Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas. The attack that occurred "on the eve of the government’s transition (...) was prepared in advance and with a goal in mind," he said in a statement published last Wednesday.                  

Following analysis of the incident that occurred on December 9, the Defense Ministry's National Cyber Security Centre (NKSC) said that the breach was directed against the content management systems to gain access to 22 sites administered by the public sector in Lithuania, mainly regional municipalities. Afterwards the attackers published three types of fake news articles: one claiming that a Polish diplomat was detained at the Lithuanian border, another alleging of corruption at Siauliai airport, where NATO's air policing mission is based, and another claiming that more people than previously reported were drafted into the military.    

Meanwhile, falsified e-mail messages resembling those used by the Defense Ministry, the Foreign Ministry, and the administration of the Siauliai municipality were used to spread the disinformation by linking back to the texts published on the breached sites. "This shows huge gaps in cybersecurity of the public sector,” said Defense Minister Anusauskas.

Lithuanian analysts have said previously that disinformation attacks in the country mostly  target the military, NATO and the country's administration.

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