Spain subjected to cyber-attacks after Kremlin declares ‘enemy country’

by Lorraine Williamson

In the past month, a veritable wave of cyber-attacks has been detected against Spanish institutions and companies. The cyber-attacks began hours after the Kremlin declared Spain anenemy country.” Spain fears the worst is yet to come. 

According to Spanish security sources, cyber-attacks against Spanish government institutions and businesses have multiplied since March 7. This was just hours after the Kremlin placed Spain along with 50 other countries, on a list of “enemy countries” because of its economic and military support to Ukraine. 

Russia behind two biggest cyber-attacks in Spain 

News site reported on Monday that US and Spanish security agencies have evidence that Russian secret services and hackers hired by them are behind two of the biggest cyberattacks in recent weeks. It concerns the attack on Iberdrola on March 15 in which data of 1.3 million customers was stolen. The second cyber-attack concerns the sabotage of the systems of the Congress of Deputies on March 24. 

Specialists claim although the size of the cyber-attacks has increased, the risk level has so far been low to average. Almost as if the hackers are issuing a warning to Spain about the government’s stance on Russia since the attacks on Ukraine. Furthermore, the attacks have not yet had the impact of the severe attack in March 2021. At that time, the systems of the Spanish employment service SEPE were down for weeks. 

Defense Spain expects cyber-attacks to become even more severe 

Together with specialists, the Ministry of Defense expects that the cyber-attacks of recent weeks have not yet reached their peak. The department has now raised the alert level to 3 (on a scale of 5). In documents recently handed over to Spain’s Moncloa, Spanish agencies fear the Kremlin will make a significant leap in its “harassment strategy” any time soon. Defense experts expect Russian services to mobilise dangerous hacker groups to paralyse government sectors on a large-scale and long-term basis. 

Spain accelerates implementation of projects in response to cyber-attacks 

Since the pandemic, the amount of cyber-attacks against Spanish institutions and companies has increased. Since then, but especially in the past month, the Spanish government has mobilised significant resources to approve plans and projects to mitigate future damage from cyber-attacks. For example, on March 30, the national cybersecurity plan was approved with a budget of €1.2 billion. The government also recently approved the 5G Cybersecurity Act through a royal decree. 

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