Cyberattacks in Czech Republic on rise

Photo: Czech Television

The European Union’s law enforcement agency, Europol, has warned of the relentless threat of cybercrime, identifying eight major trends in an annual report: from payment fraud to crime-as-a-service which it says could be accessed by terrorist groups. In recent years, the Czech Republic, like other countries has seen a rise in cyberattacks – doubling last year since 2012.

Milan Chovanec,  photo: Filip Jandourek
Over the past years, the country has seen a significant increase in cyberattacks, prompting the government to shore up defences to improve security and limit potential damage. The Czech Military Intelligence has invested or intends to invest hundreds of millions of crowns to that aim and Interior Minister Milan Chovanec, who recently sought additional funds in the fight against terrorism which also has a cyber component, made clear there was no other option but to try and remain a step ahead. Minister Milan Chovanec:

“It can be a form of blackmail but it has also focussed on financial crime. With a rise of 14 percent year-on-year, it is time to start tackling the problem.”

Spokesman for the National Centre Against Organised Crime Jaroslav Ibehej confirmed that the police force is fully focussed on improving capabilities and readiness to block online attacks.

Photo: Czech Television
“We are increasing personnel across the entire force, we have been improving technology and equipment available and we are now putting a lot of emphasis on expert training.”

Cybercrime has also been the focus of projects at the Czech Technical University in Prague, ČVUT. Sebastián Garcia, a researcher at the university involved in the project described the programme developed as capable of successfully identifying malicious IPs before damage is done. He demonstrated the programme for Czech TV:

“At some point something comes up which calls our attention and it says Hey, this information is telling us this is probably malicious… Here you can see the IP address that is attacking you and this is what your computer is doing.”

Michal Pěchouček,  photo: archive of ČVUT
The programme allows the user sufficient time to learn what is going on and to take necessary counter-measures. Michal Pěchouček is a professor at Czech Technical University also involved in the project:

“Most of the time the programme helps us avoid major catastrophes like data leaks and we can attack the interaction point between the virus and the [hacker].”

The threat of cybercrime is here to stay, whether from independent or state-funded operators; some of the most high profile attacks in recent months worldwide include the alleged Russian hacking of the D.N.C., seen as an attempt to influence the outcome of the presidential election in the United States.