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May 3, 2023updated 09 May 2023 7:02am

Swedish government website hit by DDoS cyberattack

Services have been disrupted by the attack, which came in the same that Swedish politicians met Ukraine's president Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

By Claudia Glover

Sweden’s parliament has been hit by an ongoing distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack on the government’s web portal, which was partially down on Tuesday and continues to run slowly today according to officials. DDoS attacks have enjoyed a surge in popularity since the start of the war between Russia and Ukraine, and this incident came ahead of a meeting between Swedish politicians and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

The Swedish ‘Riksdag’ Parliamentary website has been hit by DDoS attack. (Photo by Tupungato/Shutterstock)

The website of the Swedish parliament, known as the Riksdag, is used by Swedish citizens to access an array of public services, as well as to find information about the workings of the government.

Swedish government hit by DDoS cyberattack

“Analysis shows that it is a denial-of-service attack,” a Swedish parliament spokesperson told Reuters. “Right now the web page can be slow and it can be difficult to watch our web casts.”

A denial of service attack (DDoS) is where a website is overwhelmed by hundreds of thousands of manufactured requests launched by a malicious attacker. They are often perpetrated using botnets. 

Many state-sponsored Russian cybercriminals have used this method of attack to disrupt organisation in the public and private sectors, and the rudimentary technique has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity during the war in Ukraine, with hacktivists supporting both sides in the conflict using it to disable websites.

Who is behind the Swedish parliament DDoS attack?

The attacks on the Riksdag website come as heads of Nordic state came together today at a conference in Finland, Nato’s newest member, to meet with President Zelenskiy. 

The meeting was composed of heads from Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Iceland. Zelenskiy used the conference to reiterate his goal to join Nato and to continue to strengthen his army .

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Russia has been known to use cyber attacks as a geopolitical retaliatory measure. Last year, then UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson travelled to Kyiv to visit President Zelenskiy during the first throws of Russia’s invasion. Days later the NHS, was struck by a devastating attack by state-sponsored Russian cybercriminals.

Government cyber attacks climbing

Research released today shows that cyberattacks on government agencies are on the increase. Cybersecurity company Surfshark says that since 2006, there have been at least 722 cyberattacks on government agencies, 15% of which were reportedly carried out as part of a cyber espionage campaign.

Before 2020, around 29 cyberattacks on government agencies were reported every year, and this number rose to a yearly average of 96 with the start of a new decade. The year 2023 has already seen 32 significant cyberattacks on government agencies, out of which 9 were cyber espionage. 

There were only 10 cyber espionage attacks on government agencies in the entirety of 2022. 

Read more: Big banks badly need a cyber security overhaul

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