According to reports, Russian hackers launched a cyber attack on NATO that disrupted communications with a plane delivering earthquake relief to Turkey and Syria.
The Killnet group – a hacker group affiliated with Russia – has claimed responsibility on Telegram for distributed denial of service (DDos) attacks that have affected the NATO website, according to The Telegraph.
The Strategic Airlift Capability (SAC), a multinational organization that relies on NATO support for military and humanitarian airlifts, was also hit. The SAC is helping to transport search and rescue equipment to areas affected by the devastating earthquake.
The organization was reportedly unable to communicate with a C-17 aircraft in flight due to a network outage, although contact with the aircraft is reported to have never been completely lost.
“We are launching attacks against NATO. Details in a closed channel,” the hacker group, which aims to disrupt military and government websites of countries that support Ukraine, reportedly wrote on one of its Telegram channels.
DDos attempt to make a machine or network resource unavailable to users by temporarily or indefinitely interrupting the services of a host connected to a network.
A NATO official confirmed that it had been the victim of a cyber-attack, which caused the NATO Special Operations Headquarters website and other related websites to be down for a few hours.
The NATO official confirmed the attack by the hackers, telling the newspaper: “NATO cyber experts are actively tackling an incident affecting some NATO websites. NATO regularly deals with cyber incidents and takes cyber security very seriously.”
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said at a press conference ahead of a meeting of defense ministers that the alliance has taken additional protective measures since Sunday.
“Most NATO websites are functioning normally. Some NATO websites are still having availability issues, but our technical teams are working to restore full access,” he said.
More than 33,000 people died in the magnitude 7.8 earthquake that struck parts of Turkey and Syria on Monday. The toll is expected to increase as rescue teams find no survivors in the coming days.
UN relief chief Martin Griffiths described the quake as “the region’s worst event in 100 years” and predicted the death toll would at least double.
The independent has contacted NATO for further comment.