A distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack brought down the Dutch national government’s websites yesterday, officials confirm.
“The Public and Communications office, part of the Ministry of General Affairs, in conjunction with Centric/Prolocation and the National Cyber Security Center (NCSC), are evaluating the attack,” the government said in a statement.
Both Rijksoverheijd.nl and Government.nl, the government’s Dutch and English websites, went down beginning at approximately 10 o’clock in the morning and lasted into the evening.
Emergency communication channels for the Dutch government remained online.
In addition to government websites, the Dutch blog site GeenStijl.nl and Telfort, a telecommunication firm, also experienced an outage that lasted for more than seven hours.
Hosting provider Prolocation and advertising network Platform IQ initially attributed the downtime to a damaged fiber optic cable. This was before the NCSC had evidence of a cyber attack.
As a result of the outage, ministries were unable to send or receive parliamentary papers, causing members of Parliament (MPs) for the Labour Party to demand an explanation for the cyber attack.
The MPs went on to state it was “astonishing” that a simple back up could not be used to restore the Dutch government websites’ functionality.
This outage represents cyber attackers’ growing preference for using DDoS attacks against a variety of targets, including government websites.
Last month, 19,000 French municipality websites were hit with low-level DDoS attacks and subsequently defaced by three Islamic hacker groups—Middle East Cyber Army, Fallaga team, and Cyber Caliphate—following the Charlie Hebdo attacks that killed 11 people in Paris on January 7th.
And in 2013, the National Security Agency (NSA) websites as well as Dutch government websites both went down as a result of DDoS attacks.
The investigation surrounding this most recent attack remains ongoing. Currently, the identities of the attacker and its exact target remain unknown.