European Parliament Hit With Huge Security Breach Compromising Hundreds of MEPs

Cyberattacks on high-profile organizations like legislative bodies are often carried out by state-sponsored hackers who are politically motivated. The European Parliament faced a similar data breach, leaking information about hundreds of officials.

  • In May 2020, a huge data leak was discovered affecting scores of high-profile Members of the European Parliament (MEPs)
  • The data included credentials of over 200 members of the European Parliament, European Council, and European Commission, thousands of members of staff, and more than 15000 users, including members of political parties, private institutions, and journalists.
  • The data also included members of several European Union institutions like the Europol, European Data Protection Supervisor, EUIPO, Frontex, and more.

Not the first cyberattack

This was not the first time the European Parliament faced a cyberattack. In January 2019, the threat group named Turla APT hacked into and stole data from hundreds of German politicians, including Chancellor Angela Merkel, and other members of the Bundestag (lower house of German parliament), the European Parliament, as well as those from regional and local assemblies.

Global parliamentary organizations under attack

  • In January 2020, a Turkish group dubbed “Phoenix’s Helmets” attacked the websites of the Greek Parliament, the Foreign Affairs Ministry, the Athens Stock Exchange, the National Intelligence Service (EYP), and the Finance Ministry.
  • In November 2019, the Australian intelligence blamed Chinese hackers for a cyberattack on the Australian Parliament and three prominent political parties. Earlier in February 2019, hackers had attempted to break into the computer network of the Australian Parliament, which hosted the email archives of the Australian lawmakers.
  • In April 2018, a cyber espionage campaign dubbed ‘Operation Parliament’ was uncovered, that targeted high-profile organizations from 27 countries, including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Palestine, Egypt, Kuwait, Qatar, Iraq, Lebanon, Oman, Djibouti, and Somalia. It targeted parliaments, political figures, military, and intelligence agencies, media outlets, research centers, etc.
  • In August 2018, the above mentioned ‘Operation Parliament’ expanded to the Asia-Pacific region, targeting members of the Tibetan Parliament, the India-based Central Tibetan Administration, Tibetan activists, and journalists.

Preventive measures

To prevent attacks on such critical government bodies, it is important to take extra measures, like provides training to the employees to be able to identify and dodge spearphishing emails or phishing websites. Also, besides enterprise-grade endpoint security, they should also have advanced threat prevention systems that could analyze and rectify any network anomalies.