The website for the European Parliament was down for about an hour after a pro-Russian hacking group targeted it with a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack.
The attack came just hours after the European Parliament designated Russia a state sponsor of terrorism. The declaration argued that Russia’s attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure, schools and hospitals violated international laws. Russia has increased its shelling of energy infrastructure in recent weeks, forcing millions of Ukrainians to go without power right as the winter season begins with bitter cold weather.
Roberta Metsola, president of the European Parliament, and several other officials confirmed the cyberattacks.
“The European Parliament is under a sophisticated cyberattack. A pro-Kremlin group has claimed responsibility. Our IT experts are pushing back against it & protecting our systems. This, after we proclaimed Russia as a State-sponsor of terrorism. My response: #SlavaUkraini,” she said.
Jaume Duch, spokesperson of the European Parliament, said the availability of the website was being impacted from “outside” due to high levels of external network traffic.
“This traffic is related to a DDOS attack (Distributed Denial of Service) event. EP teams are working to resolve this issue as quickly as possible,” he explained.
In a Telegram group, the pro-Russian hacking group Killnet touted their attack on the website and said it was explicitly launched because of the terrorism declaration.
“Strap-on shelling of the server part of the official website of the European Parliament!” the group said among several other insults directed toward the EU.
Killnet has repeatedly targeted dozens of countries and companies with DDoS attacks since the invasion of Ukraine began in February.
The group uses DDoS attacks to briefly take websites offline, and has targeted dozens of government networks across Europe in countries like Romania, Italy, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Finland and Latvia. They have also targeted the websites of the U.S. Congress, a U.S. tax paying website, and more. Last month, the group targeted the websites of several U.S. state governments and the websites of multiple U.S. airports.
The declaration from the European Parliament came right as Russia launched several missiles at Ukrainian energy infrastructure on Wednesday. Several organizations, including NetBlocks, said the attacks on energy infrastructure impacted most regions.
“I welcome the European Parliament decision to recognize Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism and as a state which uses means of terrorism,” said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. “Russia must be isolated at all levels and held accountable in order to end its long-standing policy of terrorism in Ukraine and across the globe.”
Jonathan has worked across the globe as a journalist since 2014. Before moving back to New York City, he worked for news outlets in South Africa, Jordan and Cambodia. He previously covered cybersecurity at ZDNet and TechRepublic.