Russian group claims hacking of Lithuanian websites in retaliation for transit ban

A man holds a laptop computer as cybercode is projected onto him in this illustrative photo taken May 13, 2017. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel

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VILNIUS, June 27 (Reuters) – Lithuanian public and private websites were targeted on Monday by Russian hackers who claimed the attack was in retaliation for Vilnius’ decision to halt the transit of some goods under the European Union sanctions against the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad.

The Lithuanian Tax Authority said in a statement that it had halted all activities due to an unusually high number of login attempts to its systems, although all data was safe.

“The main targets are state institutions, transport institutions, media websites,” Deputy Defense Minister Margiris Abukevicius said in another sign of deteriorating relations between Lithuania, the country NATO Baltic States, and neighboring Russia due to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in February.

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The Russian hacker group Killnet claimed what is called a distributed denial of service (DDoS).

“The attack will continue until Lithuania lifts the blockade,” a Killnet spokesperson said. “We’ve taken down 1,652 web resources. And that’s so far.”

Kaliningrad is sandwiched between Poland and Lithuania, EU and NATO members, and is supplied by rail through Lithuanian territory.

Lithuania had started to see signs of an attack as early as June 21, Abukevicius said.

A Russian Security Council spokesman on June 22 promised retaliation for the blocked shipments, saying they would have “a serious negative impact on the Lithuanian population.” Read more

“It is very likely that attacks of a similar or higher intensity will continue in the coming days, especially in the transport, energy and financial sectors,” Lithuania’s National Cybersecurity Center said in a statement. communicated.

The secure network used by state institutions was also among those affected, the center said.

The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, said last week that Lithuania “only applies European Union sanctions” by ceasing the transport of certain goods to Kaliningrad, and did not taken any unilateral decision. Read more

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Reporting by Andrius Sytas in Vilnius; additional reporting by Guy Faulconbridge in London; edited by Terje Solsvik and Grant McCool

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