Rome (The Times Groupe)- Russian hackers are suspected of disrupting the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest with a series of cyberattacks, the Italian police report.
Eurovision’s grand final on Saturday night as well as two earlier semi-finals were targeted by the Pro-Russian Killnet hacker group in DDoS attacks, police said.
However, the attacks were blocked, says the Italian police.
Italy hosted the contest, which was seen as a show of solidarity with Ukraine and an expression of anti-war sentiment across Europe, with Russia banned earlier this year from Eurovision.
Killnet responded to the Italian authorities’ claims, saying it was not behind the attack in a Telegram post.
Previously, the pro-Russian hackers targeted the websites of several Italian institutions, including the senate, the ANSA news agency reported on Wednesday.
According to ANSA, the hacker group “Killnet” has claimed the responsiblity for the attack, which also targeted the Italian National Health Institute (ISS) and the Automobile Club d’Italia.
The senate speaker Elisabetta Casellati wrote on Twitter that the hackers did not do any damage.
“These are serious incidents that should not be underestimated,” she wrote.
In a statement, the defence ministry explained that the website was unavailable “due to long-planned maintenance activities”.
In an interview with Reuters, a source at the Italian cyber security agency said they were working with the affected administrations to restore the websites, suggesting “the first appropriate technical countermeasures”.
Police said an investigation was ongoing, but did not elaborate.
The West has raised alert levels in anticipation of possible cyber attacks on IT systems and infrastructure since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.
Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane (FS) temporarily halted some ticket sales last month fearing it had been targeted by a cyber attack.
Due to external threats, the ecology transition ministry had to shut down all its IT systems in April.