Hackers disrupt Czech news sites
DDoS attacks crashed or slowed sites of iHned.cz, iDnes.cz and Novinky.cz
Posted: March 6, 2013
Security experts are baffled as to who could be responsible for a series of coordinated cyber attacks that crippled leading Czech language news websites for several hours. The online homepages of publications including Hospodářské noviny (iHned.cz) and Mladá fronta Dnes (iDnes.cz) crashed or were temporarily slowed March 4 as a result of the action.
"News servers have been facing a massive DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack since 8:30 a.m.," iDnes.cz said on its Facebook profile page. "Servers are flooded with hundreds of thousands of nonsensical requests, and their response speed decreases."
Denik.cz and Novinky.cz were also affected, and the E15.cz news server was overloaded too, according to the Mladá fronta Dnes publishers that operate it. DDoS attacks do not involve any copying of sensitive data, but hackers flood servers with digital requests that overwhelm their systems and paralyze the websites.
No one has immediately claimed responsibility for the Czech cyber attacks, which are similar to action that recently disrupted leading U.S. news websites. The Czech branch of the online Anonymous movement said it was not behind the attack, but it used the occasion to criticize local media.
"It seems somebody decided to kick the Czech Internet reporting. Let's hope that the journalists would pull themselves together and start writing about things that really matter," the online based activist group said on its Facebook page.
The Czech Pirate Party, which has previously launched similar attacks on the ČPU anti-piracy union server, insists it has no connection or knowledge of the action against news servers. "None of us or our supporters know about anything. We don't even know why it was done," party spokesman Dana Kozlová said.
The Czech attacks follow a recent wave of cyber attacks on media and other sites worldwide, including Apple, Microsoft and Facebook. The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal have both said the cyber attacks targeting them in January originated in China.
Jakub Kulhánek from the Association for International Affairs in Prague doubts a foreign power like China is behind this latest attack. "It seems like it was someone, or a group of private hackers, trying to send a message saying 'Look, we can do this.' So for them it was a sort of demonstration," he told The Prague Post.
According iHned.cz Editor-in-Chief Lucie Tvarůžková, the March 4 attack probably came from Czech hackers. "In the past, DDoS attacks were led from abroad so it was enough to block the server from foreign users. This time it seems to have come from the Czech Republic," she said on Facebook.
But Mladá fronta Dnes reported March 5 that the attack was apparently launched from computers in Russia, but that did not mean Russians were necessarily behind it. According to the broadsheet, anyone could have ordered the attack.
Last week, hackers also targeted dozens of computer systems at government agencies in the Czech Republic, Ireland, Romania and other European countries by exploiting a security flaw in Adobe Systems Inc's ADBE.O software. Romania's security service said it believed another unnamed state was behind that attack, dubbed "MiniDuke," that hit its national security institutions as well as NATO.
Andrew Greene can be reached at