Government site hit by apparent cyber-attack; pro-Russian hackers claim responsibility

Reuters file photo
A hand is seen on a laptop with binary code displayed on the screen in front of Russian flag in this picture illustration.

A government website was hit by what appeared to be a cyber-attack Tuesday, causing the site to go down temporarily.

A pro-Russia hacker group called Killnet announced on social media Tuesday evening that it had conducted a cyber-attack on the government’s e-Gov site, according to Nobuo Miwa, president of Tokyo-based cybersecurity firm S&J Corp.

According to the digital agency, the e-Gov website went down at around 4:30 p.m. Tuesday. The e-Gov service, which enables people to complete administrative procedures online, had been mostly restored by the end of the day.

The agency is investigating the cause of the outage.

Killnet is believed to be a group of so-called hacktivists — cyber-attackers who hack to further the goals of political or social activism — and their activities have been detected since around January this year.

The hacker group also named a Japanese consumer credit company and the operator of a social media service as targets of its attack.

According to security expert Takashi Yoshikawa, the group is characterized by its use of so-called distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, which involve bombarding servers with data to paralyze them.

Killnet has announced attacks against countries hostile to Russia and supportive of Ukraine, and claims to have targeted the websites of U.S. companies and the Italian government.

“DDoS attacks do not involve information theft,” Yoshikawa said. “However, there is a possibility the attacks will continue in the days ahead. A level-headed response is required.”