Åland Hit By September Cyber Attacks

Denial of service attacks happened during Russian military exercise - Latvians claim a mobile communications jammer caused the problems.

Åland Islands flags / Credit: Ålcom Facebook

Åland was hit by a ‘denial of service’ attack last month that crashed websites, and was likely linked to a Russian military exercise.

The attack on the Åland network was considered unusually extensive, says telecoms company Ålcom.

It crashed Åland websites and interfered with network traffic IP telephone calls.

“We then observed that attacks were also directed to other countries such as Norway, Great Britain and the Netherlands, but not in our neighbourhood” says Daniel Dahlén, Ålcom’s CEO.

“We have not seen a denial of service of this magnitude before [in Åland]” he adds.

Zapad 2017 Exercise

The day before the attack too place, on 15th September, Russia and Belarus launched a massive war games involving up to 100,000 personnel in multiple locations on land, and at sea.

Reuters news agency quotes a Latvian senior defence official saying that the Russians brought a mobile communications jammer to their Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad, “a very powerful one that wasn’t aimed at Latvia, but towards Gotland, the Åland Islands” says the official, after being briefed by Latvian intelligence.

Latvia’s 112 emergency phone system crashed on 13th September, the day before the Zapad exercise started.

However, according to Ålcom, no interference was noted on their mobile phone network, only website traffic.

Åland is a strategically important area for defense and security issues in the Baltic Sea region.

Similar attacks

According to Tomi Hasu, an cyber security expert at the Finnish Communications Registration Authority FICORA these sort of attacks of a similar size happen in Finland several times each year.

In fact, Åland was hit by another, smaller, denial of service attack on 21st September, which targeted only companies providing Åland’s online services.

Ålcom has filed a police report about both of the cyber attacks.