Government organizations worldwide are at risk online. In this era of digitization, cyber criminals are more empowered than ever, leaving governments around the globe on unsure footing. Government entities globally have become one of the most popular targets amongst threat actors. With different economic and political motivations, cyber criminals have targeted several government institutions over the last few years. From state-sponsored cyber attacks to the attacks on countries’ critical infrastructure, here is a list of the top 8 recent cyber attacks suffered by government entities around the world.
#1 Iran’s Transport and Urbanization Ministry Attacked
9th July 2021: Iran’s transport and urbanization ministry suffered a cyber disruption in its computer systems, taking its websites out of service. A day before the incident, the country’s railways fell victim to a cyber attack, showing messages about alleged train cancellations or delays on the display boards at most of the stations all through Iran. The electronic tracking of trains throughout Iran failed and due to this unprecedented chaos, the recent cyber attack resulted in hundreds of trains getting delayed or cancelled.
#2 The Ukrainian Navy’s Website Attacked by Threat Actors
6th July 2021: Reuters reported that the website of the Ukrainian Naval Forces suffered a massive cyber attack. Hackers posted fake reports about the International Sea Breeze-2021 military drills on the website. Lasting from 28th June to 10th July, the Sea Breeze exercises witnessed the participation of 32 countries, including most NATO allies, Black Sea nations and partners. These exercises include 5,000 troops, 40 aircraft, 32 ships and 18 special operations and dive teams. In a statement, Ukraine’s Defence Ministry reported that there have also been several unsuccessful denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks on the Defense Ministry portal. Surprising isn’t it? Well the following attacks will leave you even more shocked!
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#3 Sol Oriens Fell Victim to REvil Hacker Group
May 2021: The hacker group REvil is believed to be responsible for a cyber attack launched on a 50-person firm called Sol Oriens. This firm provides the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) with nuclear weapons consultation. Sol Oriens became aware of the attack in late May 2021. In the aftermath of this incident, Sol Oriens’ documents were leaked on the dark web, which included the invoices for NNSA contracts and descriptions of various R&D projects. REvil has been responsible for many recent cyber attacks on various organizations like JBS, French Connection and Kaseya.
#4 Data of Japanese Government Entities Breached Through Fujitsu’s Systems
May 2021: The Japanese tech giant Fujitsu’s cloud-based collaboration platform called ProjectWEB was compromised, allowing threat actors to steal files from Japan’s numerous official government agencies. Some of the entities affected by this recent cyber attack include the Cabinet Secretariat, the Narita Airport and the Ministry of Land, Transport, Infrastructure and Tourism. Leaked data included Foreign Ministry documents on how to realize a digital government, 76,000 transport ministry email addresses including that of the transport minister Kazuyoshi Akaba.
#5 DDoS Attack on Russian Defense Ministry
16th July 2021: The Russian Defense Ministry was hit by a distributed-denial-of-service (DDoS) attack, which is believed to have originated from abroad. The attack knocked the ministry’s website offline for around an hour before the experts were able to rectify the issue and bring it back online. Fortunately, the attack did not result in any infrastructure damage. The digital assault occurred on the same day when the Russian and U.S. delegations were expected to meet to discuss digital security. This is one of the most shocking recent cyber attacks as getting through the ministry’s defenses couldn’t have been easy but the cyber criminals somehow managed to do it anyway.
#7 Ransomware Attack on Ireland’s Health Service Executive
May 2021: Threat actors launched a ransomware attack holding the Health Service Executive’s (HSE) data hostage. Ireland’s publicly funded health care system, HSE, was forced to shut down the entire IT system. The attack cut off access to patient records and resulted in delayed COVID-19 testing and cancellations of medical appointments. The Conti ransomware group demanded the ransom of $20 million. The attack on HSE is a huge example of recent cyber attacks on the healthcare industry.
#8 Colonial Pipeline Victimized by A Ransomware Attack
7th May 2021: Colonial Pipeline, one of the largest oil pipelines in the US, was hit by a ransomware attack that forced it to shut down. This 5,500-mile-long pipeline, which carries more than 100 million gallons of fuel from Houston to New York Harbour every day, was forced to stay offline for several days due to the attack. The company had to pay a ransom of $5 million to DarkSide, a Russian speaking hacking group responsible for the attack.
#5 Personal Details of UK Special Forces Soldiers Leaked on WhatsApp
1st June 2021: An Excel file leaked from inside the Ministry of Defence was discovered being passed around on WhatsApp groups. This leaked British Army spreadsheet contained the personal data of the UK Special Forces soldiers. The document included details of all the 1,182 British soldiers who were recently promoted from corporal to sergeant. It also consisted of the details of those who belonged to sensitive units such as the Special Boat Service, the Special Reconnaissance Regiment and the Special Air Service.
Cyber attacks on government organizations are horrifying and indeed damage their functioning too. But, since the government agencies themselves struggle to fight these attacks even with full support from the country, the prospect is pretty grim for organizations trying to survive on their own. However, with the help of proper cyber security awareness programs and effective cyber security tools, companies worldwide can stay ahead of the threat to shield their business and reputation.
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