North Macedonia steps up security after cyber attacks and bomb hoaxes linked to Ukraine war

North Macedonia steps up security after cyber attacks and bomb hoaxes linked to Ukraine war
North Macedonia’s PM Dimitar Kovacevski said the cyber attacks and false bomb threats are linked to the Russian war in Ukraine. /
By Valentina Dimitrevska in Skopje February 22, 2023

The government of North Macedonia has pledged on February 21 to enhance its cyber security in response to a series of fake bomb threats and cyber attacks that have caused significant disruptions in the country since last October.

On February 21, more than 30 locations were evacuated in Skopje and one in the town of Prilep after authorities received fake bomb threats. The threats targeted a wide range of locations, including the presidential palace for the first time, but also schools, public institutions, TV stations, courts, shopping malls, residential buildings, museums and hotels.

North Macedonia’s authorities have stated that the senders of the fake bomb threats are difficult to detect and that the attacks represent a form of hybrid warfare. Several countries from the region faced similar developments in the past year.

In aim to address the threats, the government has adopted a set of high-priority measures aimed at improving the security of information systems in public sector institutions. The measures will be implemented as quickly as possible.

In the direction of increasing the online security, the government tasked the bodies of the state administration to appoint a person responsible for information security in order to timely report any incidents to the National Computer Incident Response Centre, MKD-CIRT.

As part of the measures, the authorities are now required to organise cyber security training for their employees in the state administration.

The government also recommended the MKD-CIRT to file reports on external cyber-security checks of web applications of the registered institutions.

North Macedonia’s PM Dimitar Kovacevski said that the cyber attacks and false bomb threats that the country is facing lately are linked to the ongoing Russian war in Ukraine.

On February 8, North Macedonia experienced a significant cyber attack targeting the state-run Health Insurance Fund. The attack caused a system collapse, which left insured people without access to medicine and health workers without salaries.

The attack had a significant impact on the healthcare system, highlighting the importance of cyber security in critical infrastructure such as healthcare. IT experts worked extensively to restore the system, and it was successfully restored on February 20.

This incident underscored the need for the public sector in the country to take measures to improve their cyber security posture, including measures to prevent and respond to cyber attacks.