Cyber warfare heats up

PET launches new section on cyber crime while hackers continue to take down high-profile targets

The domestic intelligence agency PET has created a new 'Cybersektion' to deal with an increase in hacker attacks. 


The new section comes in the wake of an April report that revealed an increase in cyber attacks on Danish targets as well as the use of Danish websites as involuntary platforms for other virtual assaults. It is also launched in response to last year's hack of the IT company CSC, in which hackers gained access to Danish driver's licence registrations and CPR numbers. 


"The section is necessary because we can see that there are concrete cases and investigations that affect our national security," PET head Jakob Scharf told Berlingske newspaper. "It is very clear to us, also seen in the light of the CSC case, that there is a need for us to be concerned about systems with personal information."


According to Berlingske, the new PET unit will be charged with all of the IT systems that fall under the jurisdiction of the Justice Ministry, which includes the police, prosecuting authorities and the nation’s prison and probation system, Kriminalforsorgen. Other computer systems that host classified information will fall under the auspices of the Center for Cyber Security. 


The cyber crime fighters are likely to be kept busy. Recent attacks have revealed just how easy it is to disrupt public services. The hackers who claimed responsibility for an April attack on NemID said they pulled it off with a programme they purchased for just $10, a little less than 60 kroner. 


“Anyone with ten dollars can shut down any page they want”, a hacker who uses the alias s0x told tech website Version2. “Anyone can have the kind of power that we showed.”


Also earlier this year, a 15-year-old took down the website of local government association KL in the midst of KL's heated labour dispute with teachers over working hours.


And just yesterday, a group of teenagers calling themselves WeedHead Hackers took down the website of Socialdemokraterne. The group targeted the government coalition leaders to express their dissatisfaction with social issues and to expose Denmark's lax online security. 


"We wish to convey our message to the government by sending you this message: We're coming for you," a video from the group states. "If you continue to show no interest in your people, this will have fatal consequences. We have myriad methods that can result in leakage of classified information, denial of service to important sources of yours, [and] personal and confidential documents ending in the considerably wrong hands."


Police have also warned of a new form of internet blackmail that has hit Europe. Using malware, IT criminals are accusing people of having viewed child pornography, and then lock their computers and demand a ransom. There are no figures on how many people have been affected in Denmark, but there have been 26,000 reports of it in Spain and some 6,000 computers are infected each day.

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