Several critical Swedish service websites were knocked offline on Monday in a series of cyber attacks, which preceded an unrelated police raid on the ‘no-questions asked’ host, PRQ.
The websites of Sweden’s protection and preparedness agency, MSB, the banks SEB, Swedbank and Nordnet, the Swedish Armed Forces and the national news bureau, TT, were disrupted by rolling distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks beginning Monday morning.
National Police IT crime officer Anders Ahlqvist told media he was confident Monday’s attacks were launched by sympathisers with Australian WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, who Swedish prosecutors hope to extradite from Britain. Assange, who fears Sweden will permit his extradition to the US, remains stranded at the Ecuadorian Embassy where he has been granted asylum.
Ahlqvist is convinced the cyber attacks on Sweden will continue so long as the “Assange affair” rolls on.
TT, the first site felled in the attacks, remained offline throughout the day while the Swedish Armed Force’s website and affected banks were offline for about one hour each.
Sweden’s rail network operator SJ was also suspected to have been hit after its website went down late Monday morning, however an SJ spokesperson told Nyteknik that its disruption was not caused by a DDoS attack.
While several Swedish authorities were hit by DDoS attacks in September, Anders Hanson, director of Sweden’s Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT), said that simultaneous attacks on this many organisations are uncommon.
The DDoS-related disruptions on Monday occurred as police raided PRQ, the host founded by Pirate Bay co-founders Frerik Neij and Gottfrid Svartholm. Svartholm was arrested upon his arrival to Sweden after his extradition from Cambodia last month and remains in custody on suspicion of hacking Swedish IT outsourcer, Logica.
A number of torrent sites were offline after Monday’s raid, however, and The Pirate Bay’s outage was unrelated to that since it no longer uses PRQ, according to Torrent Freak’s Pirate Bay sources.