Spies Seen Behind 2019 Cyberattack on Greek Premier, Cops, Security

February 24, 2020

ATHENS – While there was concern over cyberattacks in January against the offices of Greece’s premier and other top ministries, as well as public security offices, an April 2019 breach also reportedly targeted the government.
The cyberattack, code named Sea Turtle, also went after the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the National  Intelligence Service (EYP) and the Hellenic Police (ELAS) said Kathimerini, citing unidentified sources who verified the breach without saying if critical information had been compromised by foreign spies seen behind the electronic assault.

The attack was caught by officials from the cyber security team of then-Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras, over an unusual email malfunction as the hackers got into the system.

They immediately notified the Incident Response Team of the Foundation for Research and Technology – Hellas (FORTHcert) and the police cybercrime unit, the paper said, with technical teams immediately dispatched, going to Iraklio on the island of Crete where FORTH’s Institute of Computer Science is located.

An official with knowledge of the events, who spoke to Kathimerini on the condition of anonymity, said the first suspicions turned to Crete where technicians believed the attack was launched against the .gr and .el domain names registry, whose technical support is provided by FORTH. 

Their suspicions were confirmed by their investigation that revealed an ongoing DNS (Domain Name Service ) hijacking attack taking advantages of vulnerabilities in a system with no word on what kind of defenses Greece had in place.

A second official also not named told the paper that sophisticated attackers accessed the servers of the four crucial government agencies and services by sending a misleading message to get into the computer of a FORTH employee and the internet namespace. 

They then managed to access the servers that handled the emails with extensions @primeminister.gr, @mfa.gr, @nis.gr and @astynomia.gr. There were worries the attackers read or copied messages exchanged by the officials of the four government agencies.

Greek diplomats and police officers who were asked about it told the paper, however, that no confidential information was being circulated through those emails without revealing what they were used for otherwise.
There was no claim of responsibility from the cyberattackers and the report said they tried to erase tracks they had invaded the system, leading officials to believe they were spies.

The January attack on Greece’s official ministries website, ranging from the Prime Minister and National Intelligence Service to public safety authorities may have been the work of Turkish hackers targeting governments and groups in Europe and the Middle East.

Three senior security officials who weren’t named told the news agency Reuters that the group – said to be tied to Turkey’s government – broke into the sites of at least 30 groups and government ministries, including Cyprus and Greece’s emails in 2018-19 but no evidence emerged they were behind the recent data blocking in Greece.

The attacks involve intercepting internet traffic to victim websites, potentially enabling hackers to obtain illicit access to the networks of government bodies and other organizations, the news agency said about the sweeping breadth of the hack attacks.

The security officials, two British and one American, said the activity bore the signature of a state-backed cyber espionage operation conducted to advance Turkish interests with Greece and Turkey near the boiling point over claims to the seas.It wasn’t said if that was Anka Neferler Tim (Phoenix’s Helmets) which said it hacked in as a response to Greek “threats” against Turkey which is drilling for oil and gas in Cypriot sovereign waters and signed a deal with Libya dividing the seas, planning to also hunt for energy off Crete.


PARIS – During this year's Paris Design & Art Week, Greek artist Konstantin Kakanias unveiled his inaugural furniture collection, as reported by Town & Country (TC) magazine on April 16.

Top Stories


A pregnant woman was driving in the HOV lane near Dallas.

General News

NEW YORK – Meropi Kyriacou, the new Principal of The Cathedral School in Manhattan, was honored as The National Herald’s Educator of the Year.


Indians Vote in the First Phase of the World’s Largest Election as Modi Seeks a Third Term

NEW DELHI (AP) — Millions of Indians began voting Friday in a six-week election that's a referendum on Narendra Modi, the populist prime minister who has championed an assertive brand of Hindu nationalist politics and is seeking a rare third term as the country's leader.

NEW YORK – The iconic Greek singer Haris Alexiou appeared on a billboard at the famous ‘Crossroads of the World,’ Times Square in New York on April 18 as the face of a global campaign for equality in the music industry, Athens Voice reported.

ATHENS - The ballot paper for the upcoming European elections was presented by the leader of SYRIZA - Progressive Alliance Stefanos Kasselakis, on Friday night at the 'Hellenic Cosmos' Cultural Center.

ATHENS - The Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis visited the upgraded port of Sigri in Lesvos as part of his tour of the island on Friday.

ASTORIA – Danae and Hellenic Aesthetic announced the launch of their collaboration ‘Dressing the Table’ on the Hellenic Aesthetic blog on April 17, noting that “the inspiration behind this project is to bring new life into our forgotten family heirlooms, like hand-embroidered tablecloths, so we can enjoy them in a modern way.

Enter your email address to subscribe

Provide your email address to subscribe. For e.g. [email protected]

You may unsubscribe at any time using the link in our newsletter.