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Was Vienna airport hack attempt politically motivated?
Photo: Hansueli Krapf/Wikimedia

Was Vienna airport hack attempt politically motivated?

The Local · 5 Sep 2016, 15:14

Published: 05 Sep 2016 15:14 GMT+02:00

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A massive hacking attempt at Vienna’s international airport has triggered an investigation by the Interior Ministry. Austrian media raised the possibility that a political motive might be behind the crime, pointing the finger at Turkey.

According to the director of Schwechat International Airport, Günther Ofner, unknown perpetrators attempted to penetrate the airport’s computer systems with multiple attacks from several directions on Friday. As the airport has been preparing for years for cyber attacks staff managed to repel all attacks.

Airport authorities noted that the hackers did not manage to bring down the airport website, nor were they able to access other important information about the airport or any of the airlines.

What the exact target was is not yet known. Ofner said he notified the Interior Ministry about the attack.

Austrian newspapers have speculated that rather than criminals being behind the attack, political motives may have triggered the hacking attempt. The Kurier newspaper raised the possibility that Turkish hackers might be behind the attack, given the recent diplomatic row between the two countries.

After the failed coup attempt in Turkey, Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz warned he will stop any move that brings Turkey closer to joining the European Union.

Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern even went so far as to say: "the membership negotiations are currently no more than fiction."

As a result Turkey recalled its ambassador to Austria and accused the country of being supportive of terrorism and a centre of Islamophobia. The two countries' relations have sharply deteriorated since those events.

Austrian authorities said the airport was able to withstand the cyber attack because of years of effort planning for such an event. In 2013, the national cyber security strategy was launched, which entailed cooperation between government, business, academia and civil society.

Story continues below…

The Interior Ministry created a special cyber security department at the state security and intelligence services. The cyber security centre not only cooperates with Interpol, Europol and other governments, but also with highly regarded anti-virus experts such as Eugene Kaspersky, who has advised the Interior Ministry on several occasions.

Hackers have already successfully targeted other European airports and airliners. In the summer of 2015 hackers paralysed the computer system of the Polish airline LOT which halted take-offs for five hours.

Story courtesy of Central European News.

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