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ForMin: No confidential information leaked in hacker attack

ČTK |
3 February 2017

Prague, Feb 2 (CTK) - Czech Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek (Social Democrats, CSSD) rejected on Thursday the speculations about that confidential information leaked in hacker attacks on his ministry, but added that the pirates may have gained material sensitive to people and institutions.

He said neither the content of the stolen materials nor the period during which the attack continued cannot be determined now, but added that it lasted several months.

Zaoralek announced the hacker attack on the ministry on Tuesday. Though he said the situation is serious, he said on Tuesday already that no confidential information was endangered.

On Thursday, he dismissed the speculations about that strategic information was leaked.

"This is a lie and I must resolutely reject this," he said.

"It is true what I have said. The internal system of the ministry which works with strategic information, sensitive from the point of view of the state's security, was not hacked," Zaoralek said.

He conceded that his e-mails may have contained information whose leak is unpleasant for him, but it does not endanger national security.

Yesterday, Zaoralek met the heads of the secret services and Jiri Lang, new director of the National Security Office (NBU).

That is why he has postponed his departure for a working visit to the Balkans.

Interior Minister Milan Chovanec (CSSD) said on Thursday he insists on the consistent investigation into the hacker attacks.

He told journalists that state bodies knew about the hackers' activities in advance and that the premature leak may endanger the investigation.

"I would like to know who needed to betray the investigation and for what purpose, if it was but stupidity, or whether this has some other reasons," Chovanec said.

Zaoralek, too, said the release of the information about the attacks displeased him and it caused the perpetrator to stop them, which might have prevented experts from detecting more information.

It was Defence Minister Martin Stropnicky (ANO) who mentioned a successful cyber attack on e-mail accounts of an unspecified state institution in an interview with the Info.cz server on Monday.

On Tuesday, the media wrote that the hacked institution was the Foreign Ministry.

The Defence Ministry dismisses any mistake on its part.

"By no means did we make any mistake. No concrete institution was named within the [Stropnicky's] mention of a hacking attack," the ministry's spokesman, Jan Pejsek, told CTK.

He said the attacks had already ended when the information on them was released.

Experts say the attack must have been made by another country and that it was reminiscent of the attack on the U.S. Democratic Party's Internet system. The U.S. secret services accused Russia of the attack.

The government will discuss the attacks with representatives of the NBU and the secret services next week.

Server Info.cz said on Tuesday, referring to information from the National Centre for Cyber Security, that the attack continued for about one year and that more than 7000 documents were stolen during it.

Server neovlivni.cz wrote that the IP addresses, from which the hackers downloaded information, are from Russia, Britain, Germany as well as the Czech Republic.

Defence Minister Stropnicky told Czech journalists on Thursday that his ministry has faced lots of hacking attacks, actually thousands of them, practically every day.

It is necessary to distinguish between them, since a large part of them are amateurish and semi-amateurish attempts.

The number of sophisticated attacks is not extreme, Stropnicky said on the sidelines of a conference in Poland.

In the wake of the hacking attack on the Foreign Ministry, the Defence Ministry's management ordered the staff to deal with data cautiously. They should not use their private cell phones or keep redundant documents that need not be kept electronically. Stropnicky said.

He said the cybernetic field is a "normal battlefield."

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