Stephansdom: Vienna woken up after hacker sets church bells to ring at 2am

Amanda Previdelli
Amanda Previdelli - [email protected]
Stephansdom: Vienna woken up after hacker sets church bells to ring at 2am
St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna, Austria. Photo by Dimitry Anikin on Unsplash

The famous bells at St. Stephan's cathedral rang for almost half an hour before the priest brought peace and quiet back to Vienna's first district.


At around 2am this Wednesday, 16, Vienna's landmark St. Stephan's cathedral was hacked, and the famous bells started ringing. 

The unexpected alarm clock was halted when cathedral priest Toni Faber personally shut them off using his tablet, Vienna's Archdiocese spokesperson told ORF.

While at first a technical error was suspected, later in the day the surprising culprit was determined: it was a hacker attack. According to Faber, the cybercriminal gained access to the church's system through a vulnerability at its remote maintenance systems. 

The technology was at blame but was also the solution, as the priest was able to stop the ringing using his tablet. 

Later, the bells were taken off the standard network, and a VPN and further protections were set up. 



St. Stephan's (or Stephen's) cathedral is one of the main symbols of Austria. Located in the centre of Vienna, it is also a tourist magnet: over six million people visit the cathedral every year, according to its website. 

The gothic church has been a cathedral church since 1,365, and it still celebrates catholic services every day of the week, especially during Christian holidays. 

There are several bells in its towers. The most famous one is the Pummerin, which is also the third-largest free-swinging ringing church bell in Europe.

Since the Pummerin is not connected to the internet system, it was not a part of the orchestra this early morning. 

Useful vocabulary

Hackerangriff - hacker attack

Glocken - bells

Dom - cathedral

Kirche - church

Wecker - alarm clock


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