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Russia blamed for worrying Polish news agency attack


Russia has been blamed for the recent cyber-attack on the Polish Press Agency (PAP), drawing strong condemnation from the European Alliance of News Agencies (EANA).

The worrying development comes at a time of growing incidents of deepfake disruption worldwide which includes cyber-criminals using AI to commit fraud. The Polish attack came in the build up to the European elections and there are increasing concerns over possible Russian cyber interference in national votes due in the UK and USA.

American officials are warning that a growing number of US adversaries, led by Russia, are looking to influence the 2024 presidential election through for-hire commercial firms and the use of generative artificial intelligence.

Poland says that multiple cyberattacks against their country have been carried out by Russia’s nation-state hacker collectives since the war in Ukraine began in Spring 2022.

PAP was targeted by hackers, who sent out a fake report through the agency’s online service claiming that Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk had announced a partial mobilisation of 200,000 men who were going to be sent to Ukraine.

The report was immediately cancelled by PAP but was re-released minutes later. The second release was also cancelled. "The Board of The European Alliance of News Agencies (EANA) strongly condemns the cyberattack on the Polish Press Agency's website that was carried out a few days ago," EANA wrote.

"Understanding the value that trustworthy and free news agencies bring to our society, EANA underlines the fundamental need that real journalism is secured and left out of any type of conflicts.”

Alexandru Giboi, secretary general of EANA, "The attack on PAP's website was obviously an attempt from malignant actors to destabilise and misinform the Polish society before a very important European election round and during an ongoing war in Ukraine.

"In a way, this unfortunate development showcases the critical importance news agencies have for societies, especially during very important national or global events. Also, in this context, media organizations should focus more on cybersecurity and governments should observe the need to invest more in life-long learning of media literacy."

In October 2020, American officials warned that both Iran and Russia had obtained US voter registration information in a bid to interfere in that election. Officials accused Iranians of posing as the far-right group Proud Boys to send intimidating emails to voters.

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