Bulgaria hit by suspected Russian cyberattack

Government installations in Bulgaria have been hit by a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack over the weekend, according to a Twitter statement made by its chief public prosecutor, who pointed at Russia as the possible culprit.

“State institutions are under attack, possibly by Russian hacking groups,” tweeted Ivan Geshev. “The prosecutor's office, together with the security services, will protect the Bulgarian national interest and that of our European partners from malicious influence.”

The DDoS attack hit Bulgaria’s ministries of Justice, Internal Affairs, and Defense, according to EU-wide media syndicate Euractiv. It is not thought to have caused serious damage to the targeted sites, hampering access rather than destroying or defacing content.

"The object of the attack is the entire Bulgarian state as part of the European family," said Geshev, who later jokingly added that he had no idea why his own department, the Public Prosecutor’s Office, had been “left out” of the attacks.

Likely launched on October 15, the cyberassault is being classed by Bulgaria as a criminal case, but so far, Geshev’s office has not openly speculated on the motives behind it.

Bulgaria joined many other EU countries in condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine but has been reported by some sources as fearing a NATO-led response to Vladimir Putin’s war.

Geshov’s deputy, Borislav Safarov, said the cyberattack originated from the Russian city of Magnitogorsk, located deep inside Russia, north of the border with the Central Asian state of Kazakhstan.

Safarov said his investigation had not determined whether the DDoS attack was the work of a lone hacker or a more organized group and did not rule out that it may have been a prank – though he deemed that unlikely.

"Whether it is an initiative of some persons or of state structures, I cannot commit [to saying] at this moment, because it is also a matter of investigative secrecy," he added.

The Bulgarian government insists that the cyberattack has been dealt with and that the country’s cyber defense teams are on high alert in case of further attempts to compromise digital security.

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