Deputy prime minister of Poland: senior gov't officials were hit by Russian cyberattack 

Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the strongest politician in Poland, said that one of the attack's main goals was to damage Polish society and destabilize the country. The EU Council of Ministers met yesterday to discuss the topic  

Jaroslaw Kaczynski at the Polish parliament last year. Photo: Slawomir Kaminski/Agencja Gazeta via REUTERS

Senior Polish government officials were hit by a significant cyberattack carried out from Russian territory, this according to Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the country's Deputy Prime Minister who is considered its de facto leader. According to Kaczynski, the targets of the attack included ministers and members of parliament from across the political spectrum, including very high level officials.   

Earlier this month, Polish media reported that emails sent from the private accounts of a number of governmental entities were leaked and published on Telegram. "The analysis of our services and the secret services of our allies allows us to clearly state that the cyber attack was carried out from the territory of the Russian Federation. Its scale and range are widespread," Kaczynski noted, in a statement published on the Polish government website.

One of the accounts that was breached was that of Michal Dworczyk, who serves as Chief of the Chancellery (the Prime Minister's executive office, M.K.). "Currently, I am not able to say exactly when my e-mail account was hacked, but I would like to emphasize once again that I did not use it to send any information that could pose a threat to state security," Dworczyk said.

Deputy Prime Minister Kaczynski also urged citizens to be cautious and not consider the attack as merely an operation planned against Polish officials and politicians, stating that one of its foremost pbjectives was to hit Polish society and destabilize the country.

According to an unidentified EU diplomat who spoke with 'Politico", the cyber response teams that investigated the breach confirmed that the infrastructure and the modus operandi were the same as those used by Russian-sponsored entities in previous attacks, He also said over 30 members of parliament, government representatives and even journalists fell victim to the specific attack, which started in September 2020. The diplomat added that following a request by the Polish government, the EU Council of Ministers would discuss the issue on Monday (note: this is written before the council convenes, and will be updated acordingly).  

The alleged Russian involvement in cyberattacks on critical infrastructure and government agencies around the world has been increasingly spotlighted in the international community, led by US President Joe Biden. Last week, the G7 leaders issued a strong statement calling on Russia to identify attackers operating in its territory, disrupt their operations and to take steps against them. The following day, a similar statement was issued by NATO (which Poland is part of). Italy announced that it is establishing a national cyber agency, among other reasons due to the worrying level of involvement by Russia in espionage and manipulation of cyberspace.        

It should be mentioned that Russia strongly denies the accusations. At a press conference held by Russian President Vladimir Putin after his meeting with Biden last week, he claimed that Russia is not ranked among the countries from which the largest number of cyberattacks are carried out (and that the country which tops the list is the US), and that even though Russia has been providing detailed answers to all inquiries it receives on the topic - the inquiries that Russia submits are ignored.