Pro-Kremlin hackers Killnet takes credit for downing European Parliament website, after Russia declared state sponsor of terrorism
The European Parliament on Wednesday declared Russia a state sponsor of terrorism, as it continues to target critical and civilian infrastructure in Ukraine.
Soon after that symbolic vote, the website of the European Parliament website was knocked offline for several hours by a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack.
The website recovered several hours later, and it seems a pro-Kremlin hacking group claimed responsibility for its downing.
Russia terrorism sponsor
The cyberattack against the European Parliament website came after it declared Russia a “state sponsor of terrorism”, saying Moscow’s “deliberate attacks and atrocities” in Ukraine violate human rights and international humanitarian laws.
European lawmakers passed the resolution on Wednesday with 494 members voting in favour, 58 against and 44 abstaining.
Following the atrocities carried out by Vladimir Putin’s regime against Ukrainian civilians, MEPs have recognised Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism. Press release: https://t.co/YuBxBaU4GX pic.twitter.com/tf4qxSJLoB
— European Parliament (@Europarl_EN) November 23, 2022
However, the move is largely symbolic as the European Union has no legal framework or indeed sufficient military capabilities to back it up.
Russia is currently pounding Ukraine with missile strikes that targetting both critical infrastructure and civilian targets – killing Ukraine citizens and knocking out electricity supplies for most of the country.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy welcomed the vote, saying, “Russia must be isolated at all levels and held accountable.”
But just after that declaration, the European Parliament website was downed for several hours by a DDoS cyberattack, and a pro-kremlin group claimed responsibility.
This attack was confirmed on Twitter by European Parliament President Roberta Metsola on Wednesday afternoon.
“A pro-Kremlin group has claimed responsibility,” she wrote on Twitter. “Our IT experts are pushing back against it & protecting our systems. This, after we proclaimed Russia as a State-sponsor of terrorism.”
The @Europarl_EN is under a sophisticated cyberattack. A pro-Kremlin group has claimed responsibility.
Our IT experts are pushing back against it & protecting our systems.
This, after we proclaimed Russia as a State-sponsor of terrorism.
My response: #SlavaUkraini
— Roberta Metsola (@EP_President) November 23, 2022
In a Telegram group, the pro-Russian hacking group Killnet claimed responsibility for the attack on the EU Parliament website, and said it was explicitly launched because of the terrorism declaration.
“Strap-on shelling of the server part of the official website of the European Parliament!” the group reportedly said – among other insults it directed towards the EU.
UK, US cyber operations
The EU, US and United Kingdom have imposed unprecedented sanctions on Russia over its illegal war in Ukraine.
And earlier this month the British government for the first time acknowledged that it has been actively helping Ukraine protect its critical national infrastructure from Russian cyberattacks.
The UK’s programme was “mobilised shortly after Putin’s invasion in February to protect against increased Russian cyber attacks. The programme has not been made public until now to protect its operational security,” it said.
The UK’s admission of aiding Ukraine in the cyberspace, comes after the US government in June this year admitted that American military hackers had conducted ‘a series of operations’ in support of Ukraine.
A senior US General (the head of US Cyber Command General Paul Nakasone), said that US military hackers had conducted offensive operations in support of Ukraine.
“We’ve conducted a series of operations across the full spectrum; offensive, defensive, [and] information operations,” General Nakasone told Sky News.
The General declined to describe those operations.