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2021.08.13 09:42

Hackers gained access to foreign minister’s emails, attack linked to Russia

BNS2021.08.13 09:42

Russia-linked hackers stole correspondence from Lithuania's Foreign Ministry in November, Defence Minister Arvydas Anušauskas said on Thursday.

"We would like to specify that the cyber attack was carried out in November last year. There was an attempt to carry out a cyber attack yesterday but it was unsuccessful," the minister told BNS, linking the attack with Russian special services.

"Those groups of hackers, active in our region and carrying out cyber attacks and hacking into databases, are usually linked to Russian secret services," Anušauskas said.

"I would think so, yes," he said when asked again whether he linked the attack with Russia.

Lithuanian institutions did not report about the November attack.

Alleged hackers have claimed that they have stolen some 1.6 million emails and various documents from the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry, which includes correspondence with embassies in foreign countries, NATO partners.

Read more: Hackers steal 'classified' documents, Lithuanian official say riots may be connected

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda confirmed that some of the stolen material was “classified”.

Anušauskas said he could not confirm the authenticity of the documents and whether some of them were classified.

"When some information is leaked, we need to understand that there's a risk of fake news also being included into the content of documents, as well as fake documents that might be forged," the defence minister said.

Only a small number of documents were stolen, according to Anušauskas.

"Based on specialists' assessment, it should not be a period of several decades. It should be a short period," he said.

Following the November attack, the Foreign Ministry was provided with recommendations on how to fix its cyber security system to prevent future incidents, said Anušauskas, adding that the recommendations have been implemented.

"Yesterday's unsuccessful attack is proof of that," he said.

The documents were stolen in November, but the attack was only reported recently amid riots in Rūdninkai migrant camp and outside the parliament.

"Several goals might be behind that, including the wish to destabilise the situation and cause reputational damage," the minister said.

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