Netherland’s Prime Minister Mark Rutte arrives for an European Union summit on February 3, 2017 in Valletta, Malta. / AFP PHOTO / ANDREAS SOLARO
Russian hackers accused of trying to meddle in the recent US elections have tried to infiltrate Dutch ministries among hundreds of cyber attacks ahead of next month’s polls here, reports said Saturday.
Two Russian groups were behind phishing attempts to pinch the credentials of government workers, including at the prime minister’s office, the respected Volkskrant daily said.
Citing security experts, Volkskrant said the two groups were APT29 and APT28, which have links to the Russian government and were named by the FBI and US Homeland Security as being behind “malicious cyber activity” against US government bodies.
The hacking bid on the prime minister’s office appeared to have been unsuccessful, the daily added.
Concerns over the security of Dutch computers and websites have been growing since the outcry erupted over US intelligence reports that Russia had interfered to help secure the election of US President Donald Trump.
Dutch authorities announced on Wednesday that they were scrapping a decade-old computer system for the March 15 general elections and would count millions of votes by hand after a report revealed “vulnerabilities” in the system.
“In the last six months we have seen hundreds of attempts to hack into emails and company data. It’s a real challenge to stay ahead of the game,” the head of the Dutch secret service (AIVD) Rob Bertholee said in a television interview Friday.
Apart from Russia, China and Iran had also been behind some of the cyber attacks, he said.
“I think it is a threat to our democracy,” Bertholee said, speaking on the Eeen Vandag programme on public broadcaster NOS.
“The danger is twofold: they can interfere with the workings of our parliament and influence the government’s decision-making process. Second: is that they can steal business and economic secrets and undermine the earning power of the Dutch business community.”