Worst cyberattack in Greece disrupts high school exams, causes political spat

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece’s Education Ministry says it has been targeted in a cyberattack described as the most extensive in the country’s history, aimed at disabling a centralized high school examination platform.

It said the distributed denial of service, or DDoS, attacks aimed at overwhelming the platform occurred for a second consecutive day Tuesday. The attack involved computers from 114 countries, causing outages and delays in high school exams but failing to incapacitate the system, the ministry said.

The cyberattacks prompted a judicial investigation ordered by a Supreme Court prosecutor, to be assisted by the police’s cybercrime division.

“It is the most significant attack ever carried out against a Greek public or government organization,” the Education Ministry said, describing the incidents on Monday and Tuesday as “large-scale and of sustained duration.”

End-of year high school exams in Greece are administered using an online platform known as the Subject Bank, designed to to set a uniform standard nationwide.

The outages left students waiting in classrooms for hours for the exams to start and touched off a political spat, following an inconclusive general election earlier this month. A caretaker government has been appointed ahead of a new election on June 25, with the conservative New Democracy party, which headed the previous government, favorite to win re-election.

“All we’ve got so far is an arrogant abdication of responsibility of the New Democracy government, which for four years failed to take adequate digital protection measures to shield the Subject Bank platform and ensure that school examinations run smoothly,” said Popi Tsananidou, a spokeswoman for the main opposition party, left-wing Syriza.

Caretaker Prime Minister Ioannis Sarmas chaired a meeting Tuesday on the attacks, which a statement from his office said “were of great intensity and indicate a strong motive and know-how.” But the statement made no reference to who might be responsible for the disruption.

It said the attacks had been “efficiently repelled” and Greek authorities would if necessary “mobilize whatever is needed to address cyberattacks in the immediate future.”


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