Russia hacks Polish media, posts fake news about troops to Ukraine

A false news story posted on Polish state media claiming that its Prime Minister would spin up 200,000 soldiers to join Ukraine’s fight against Russia is being blamed on Russian hackers.

Poland’s Digital Affairs Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Krzysztof Gawkowski said the fake news story, which appeared on the Polish Press Agency’s (PAP) news feed at least twice on Friday, was most likely the result of a Russian cyberattack.

“Telegram@PAPinformation regarding partial mobilization is false. We have started urgently investigating the matter. Everything points to a cyber attack and planned disinformation! I will keep you updated on further arrangements,” Gawkowski posted on X Friday and translated to English.

The PAP also took to the Musk-owned social media platform, confirming the minister's claims in a series of posts.

“PAP management: The Polish Press Agency experienced a cyberattack, we are working on strengthening security,” it announced.

PAP Editor in Chief Justyna Wojteczek told Polsat news that the agency had “identified the source of access. We have secured this path.”

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk also responded to the news on X, stating that “the hacker attack well illustrates the Russian destabilization strategy before the European Parliament elections.”

The cable specifically states that 200,000 Polish citizens and men were being mobilized and deployed to Ukraine to help fight against Russia troops.

The false article was published on PAP newswires, just days before the EU elections, “at 14.00 and 14.20" according to the agency.

"It was withdrawn both times. After the first withdrawal, it was re-released," PAP said.

“The cable was not created by the agency, written, or broadcast by PAP journalists,” PAP reiterated in a report.

‘Aggression against Poland continues’

Multiple cyberattacks against the Polish nation have been carried out by Russia’s nation-state hacker collectives since the war in Ukraine began in Spring 2022.

During a press conference held Friday, the head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Administration Tomasz Siemoniak said the attack is another attempt by Russia to destabilize the nation and the eastern border, referring to recent tensions on the Polish-Belarusian line.

"We are fighting against attempted acts of sabotage commissioned by the Russian services, there is a whole series of arrests, actions of the Internal Security Agency and the police…" Siemoniak said.

“This aggression against Poland continues. We have no doubt that it is related to the fact that Poland supports Ukraine, just like the entire free world, just like the entire West,” he said.

Earlier this month, the Kremlin-backed hacker group APT28 was found targeting Polish government institutions in yet another Russian malware campaign against the NATO-member nation.

First discovered by CERT Polska cybersecurity agency on May 8th, Gawkowski told media then that Warsaw was constantly identifying cyberattacks from Russia on targets including the nation’s water supply and health services.

And on May 19th, multiple Polish news websites were knocked offline after being hit by DDoS attacks, also said to be instigated by Russian hackers.

The Russian embassy in Warsaw said it had no knowledge of the incident and declined further comment.

Poland’s Internal Security Agency and National Security Bureau were notified of Friday's cyberattack, PAP reported.