The website of three Dutch and Belgian ports was rendered inaccessible by a hacker group sympathetic to Russia early on Tuesday, just two weeks after similar incidents.
The website of North Sea Port, the company running the three affected ports of Vlissingen and Terneuzen in the Netherlands – as well as the port of Gent in Belgium – was rendered inaccessible for several hours at 8.30 am on Tuesday, according to RTL Nieuws. However, the ports themselves were not hindered in their everyday operations.
Russian hacker group NoName057 claimed the attacks on their Telegram channel.
“Ban*** the northern seaport [sic!], located in Belgium and the Netherlands,” the group posted. “We will continue to punish the Russophobic members of the ‘coalition of fighters’”, it said in another post, alluding to the fighter jet coalition looking to procure F16s for Ukraine, in which both Belgium and the Netherlands participate.
North Sea Port confirmed the attack but stated no information about the culprits.
DDOS attacks involve sending heavy internet traffic to websites, overwhelming their servers and causing them to crash without damaging the website’s systems or harming data.
Raising awareness to key threats
Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Den Helder and Groningen ports were all victims of NoName057 just two weeks ago, with their websites offline for several hours. The website of Groningen’s port was down for the whole weekend.
The group was also responsible for cyber attacks on the websites of the Icelandic parliament and several ministers, rendering them inaccessible in a similar fashion to the attacks on the Dutch and Belgian ports.
“The cabinet works on an ongoing basis to raise awareness among industry parties about key threats (including in the context of cybersecurity), espionage targets and modus operandi, as well as increasing resilience,” a spokesperson for the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management told EURACTIV.
“Port companies are responsible for securing computer systems and networks within their own areas of operation,” the spokesperson added.
The ministry also emphasised the potential future role of the Network and Information Security Directive (NIS2) and the Critical Entities Resilience Directive (CER) – two pieces of EU flagship legislation in the field of cybersecurity.
Set to be introduced into Dutch law in October next year, these directives will play a role in future endeavours to protect critical infrastructure, the ministry added.
The attacks come when cybersecurity gaps are gaining increasing attention in Dutch political circles, with Dutch lawmakers calling for increased protection of critical infrastructure in the North Sea just last month.
Crucial energy infrastructure, such as solar panels and the Dutch semiconductor industry, has also been designated as potential targets, with the latter especially being threatened by China.
(Benedikt Stöckl | EURACTIV.com)
Read more with EURACTIV