Internet users found the websites of a number of leading Polish media outlets working slowly or in some cases being completely inaccessible amid a coordinated attack that the government’s digital affairs ministry says came from Russian hackers.
Among the newspapers affected were Super Express, Gazeta Wyborcza and Rzeczospolita – Poland’s second, third and fourth best-selling dailies – as well as Polityka, the best-selling weekly news magazine. News websites wPolityce and Niezależna were also hit.
“A DDoS hacking attack on [our] website is in progress,” tweeted wPolityce. “According to information obtained from the digital affairs ministry, Russian hacking groups are behind the attack.”
Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks are malicious attempts to disrupt websites by overwhelming them with a flood of internet traffic from various sources.
Trwa atak hakerski typu DDoS na stronę @wPolityce_pl, skutkujący chwilowymi problemami z odbiorem strony. Według informacji uzyskanych z @CYFRA_GOV_PL za atakiem stoją rosyjskie grupy hakerskie. Atakowane są także inne polskie portale. Pracujemy nad rozwiązaniem problemów. pic.twitter.com/AA6chOfNFh
— wPolityce.pl (@wPolityce_pl) May 18, 2023
“On Thursday morning, the Wyborcza.pl website is working slower than usual. Some users were temporarily unable to use our website,” wrote Gazeta Wyborcza. “We apologise for these problems. The digital affairs ministry has confirmed that there was a DDoS attack on our website.”
The media outlets targeted represent a range of different political views. wPolityce and Niezależna, for example, are supportive of the ruling party but Gazeta Wyborcza is strongly critical of it.
Digital affairs minister Janusz Cieszyński told news website Wirtualna Polska today that “we had information about the attacks in advance from our sources and immediately forwarded it to the website owners”.
He also confirmed to both Wirtualna Polska and the Polish Press Agency (PAP) that the information available points to Russian hackers being behind the attack.
The hacking of Polish officials, including the PM’s chief of staff, can be “reliably linked to the Russian security services”, says Poland
It is part of a “campaign to destabilise the political situation in Central European countries” and “undermine NATO” https://t.co/aX8KF66WyB
— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) June 24, 2021
Daniel Tilles is editor-in-chief of Notes from Poland. He has written on Polish affairs for a wide range of publications, including Foreign Policy, POLITICO Europe, EUobserver and Dziennik Gazeta Prawna.