Russian Hackers Shut Down US State Government Websites

A hacking attack group with connections to the Russian government has claimed credit for cyber attacks on the government websites of 3 US States.

The group, which calls itself Killnet, have temporarily disabled websites run by the governments of Colorado, Kentucky and Mississippi.

Images being shared on the group’s Telegram channel show a target list including sites run by dozens of US state governments.

The sites for Mississippi and Kentucky were functioning again the next day on Thursday 6th October, following the Russian cyber attacks, while the Colorado State Official Web Portal was displaying a message that the "homepage is currently offline," earlier in the day. By Thursday afternoon, the homepages were back online.

Reports of the attacks by the so-called Killnet hacktivist group is particularly alarming in light of upcoming November US mid-term elections, which rely on individual states to administer voting.

"In the case of these state government websites, the disruption of service, while inconvenient, is far less of a problem than a data breach involving the theft of personally identifiable information," Erich Kron, security awareness advocate with KnowBe4, said in an emailed statement in reaction to news of the cyber attack.

"Whether it's the defacement of websites, or taking them offline with attacks such as distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, it does erode public trust in the organisations that these websites represent."

The group’s also targeted US websites before, including that of Bradley International Airport in Hartford, Connecticut, as well as Congress.gov.

Killnet was also one of several groups included in a Five-Eyes alert earlier this year warning of Russian state-sponsored and criminal threats, including DDoS attacks against critical infrastructure.

Dark Reading:     CNN:    Statescoop:     CISA:   SiliconAngle:     NBC:    Flipboard

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