NATO says it is “actively addressing incidents” affecting its unclassified websites after a hacking group claimed to have stolen numerous strategic planning and research documents from the alliance.
The apparent cyber intrusions raise questions about NATO’s ability to protect communication networks where the alliance shares unclassified but non-public insights into emerging technologies and security threats.
The trove of purported NATO documents posted online in the last week covers topics such as hypersonic weapons, threats from drones, and testing procedures for radioactive waste.
“NATO is facing persistent cyber threats and takes cyber security seriously,” a NATO official said in a statement to CNN on Tuesday. “NATO cyber experts are actively addressing incidents affecting some unclassified NATO websites. Additional cyber security measures have been put in place. There has been no impact on NATO missions, operations and military deployments.”
A “hacktivist,” or politically motivated hacking group, known as SiegedSec leaked the documents on the social media platform Telegram and claimed it was the second time in three months that they had hacked unclassified NATO websites. The hackers said this week they’d breached the “lessons learned” online portal, among others, where NATO shares strategic insights with military officials from the alliance.
The Daily Dot, an online news site, first reported on NATO’s investigation into the hacking incident.
SiegedSec is known for a spate of hacks in the last 18 months of state and local US government websites, which they have sometimes targeted for restrictions on abortions or gender-affirming care.
It’s unclear exactly why the hackers targeted NATO, but such hacktivist groups sometimes break into computer networks simply because they can. SiegedSec gleefully announced the release of the documents on Telegram.
The incident is a fresh reminder of the external and internal digital threats facing Western governments as they look to share intelligence amid Russia’s war on Ukraine.
A Massachusetts Air National Guardsman was arrested in April for allegedly posting online numerous classified documents related to that war and other US national security threats, raising concerns among US allies about the security of the shared intelligence.