Sweden’s Cyber Attacked: Suspicions on Russian Hackers

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Swedish government agencies and shops have fallen victim to a ransomware attack suspected to be carried out by a Russian hacker group called Akira. IT consultancy Tietoevry, which provides online security systems, stated that the online services affected by the attack could take several days or even weeks to fix. The attack disrupted online purchases at the country’s biggest cinema chain, as well as some department stores and shops. The attack also affected the centralised human resources system used by Sweden’s national government service centre, making it impossible for public sector employees to declare overtime hours, sick leave, or holiday requests.

Tietoevry and other cybersecurity experts have accused the hacker group Akira, with ties to Russia, of carrying out the attack. The company has filed a police complaint and is currently unable to fully assess the financial impact of the attack, including whether a ransom demand has been made. Ransomware attacks typically access vulnerable computer systems, encrypt or steal data, and then demand payment in exchange for decrypting the data or not releasing it publicly.

The Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB) emphasized the importance of cybersecurity and called on Sweden to invest more time and resources into it. Margareta Palmqvist, head of information security at MSB, stated that Sweden has rapidly digitalized but has not allocated sufficient resources to cybersecurity. The agency hopes that this attack will serve as a wake-up call and urges both the public and private sectors to prioritize cybersecurity and be prepared for future incidents.

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