Hackers steal WKO data

The Austrian Economy Chamber (WKO) has become the latest victim of a hacking attack.

WKO confirmed yesterday evening (Tues) that its webserver was infiltrated by unidentified cyber criminals. More than 6,000 data sets of customers of the chamber were published on the internet. Most of the records contain information about clients of WKO’s real estate management section. WKO claimed no “sensitive” data had been nicked, explaining that postal and e-mail address records were affected. The chamber asked the Federal Crime Office (BK) to investigate.

Anonymous Austria, the domestic branch of an internationally operating network of hackers, stressed yesterday they had not carried out the attack on WKO themselves. The group explained they had been provided with the records by someone else, adding that the security leak was exposed by using online search engine Google.

The attack occurred only days after the internet representation of Tyrolean public health insurer TGKK was targeted. Anonymous Austria claimed they were in possession of 600,000 TGKK data sets after the strike. The press claimed that World Cup skiing ace Nicole Hosp, singer Hansi Hinterseer and other celebrities could be affected.

Earlier this year, Anonymous Austria published personal data of 25,000 police officers and crashed the homepages of the ruling Social Democrats (SPÖ) and the Freedom Party, a right-wing opposition party. The website of the Greens, who are in opposition to the government of SPÖ and the People’s Party (ÖVP), was attacked as well. Anonymous Austria claimed they were not behind this offence. BK cyber crime experts are still investigating all incidents. Hans Zeger of ARGE Daten, an independent group for data protection, said: “We have kept underlining that many systems do not even meet a minimum of requirements considering safety aspects.”

A member of Anonymous Austria told the Kurier newspaper in July: “We won’t stop in the foreseeable future. (…) Most of us are ready to risk getting punished for what they are doing. (…) Politicians are like pigeons – they shit on your head after you have fed them. We cannot go on like this.” Asked what professions Anonymous Austria members have, he said: “Pupils, university students and young employees can be found among our members, but also unemployed people, civil servants and members of the army.”

Meanwhile, a high-ranking member of Austrian secret service authorities has spoken about the difficulties in tackling cyber attacks. The unnamed official told weekly magazine profil: “Attacks happen at extreme speed without any warning. You become a victim out of the blue.” He also made aware how “user friendly” the World Wide Web (WWW) was to felons due to its anonymity. “We need to be prepared for attacks by anyone at all times,” the secret service member added.

The Austrian secret service employee suggested cyber security should be taught at schools. He claimed more had to be done to make companies aware of the dangers. Cyber security expert Markus Robin suggested speaking to profil all software programmes should undergo “crash tests” before being published and put on sale. “You have to be ready for any kind of attack. Everything which is technically possible can occur at any time,” he said.