Greece and Turkey enter a cyberwar era

Two of the attacks committed in the first days could be traced to Chinese and Swedish IP addresses. [Shutterstock]

A number of cyberattacks took place this week between Athens and Ankara amid an ongoing escalating crisis between the two countries.

Greek media reported earlier this week that Turkish hackers attacked the websites of the Greek parliament, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Intelligence Service. Problems have also been reported on other websites, such as the Treasury and the Athens Stock Exchange.

The Turkish hacker group “Anka Neferler” took responsibility for the attacks.

In response, Anonymous Greece, a cyber hacking organisation, which defines itself as a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), counter-attacked by targeting specific state-owned communications servers. Although the activities of this group have been controversial, they say they have frequently helped Greek authorities identify pedophiles operating online.

Late on Thursday night (23 January), Greek government spokesman Stelios Petsas confirmed that other attacks on the websites of the Ministries of Interior and Foreign Affairs, Shipping, Finance and the Prime Minister’s website.

“This evening there was a cyberattack on government sites by using the DDoS method. These attacks have led to the malfunctioning of specific websites,” he said.

In an interview with newspaper, Anonymous Greece members said those who attacked Greek websites were not professional hackers, but government officials.

“We consider them government officials of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, with ample funding and no special skills. It is a common secret that this group operates under the orders of Turkish MIT,” two Anonymous Greece members said.

“Following the developments in Libya, we expected that they would do something. They tried to show some degree of strength but they failed,” they added.

Anonymous Greece also added that there are many more unsuccessful attempted attacks that are “silently” prevented. They even added that the “cyberwar” is daily and invisible, saying “we often prevent attacks. There’s a lot that people don’t see”.

Greek-Turkish relations have never been easy. But following a controversial Turkey-Libya Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) demarcating maritime zones in the region, the relations have reached a dangerous deadlock.

Athens says Turkey ‘blackmailed’ Libya to sign MoU by sending weapons

Turkey blackmailed Libya to agree to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) demarcating maritime zones in the region by sending weapons to the country, Greek media quote a high-ranking diplomat as saying.

Merkel to Turkey

In the meantime, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is currently in Istanbul to meet Turkish President Erdoğan to discuss the latest developments in Libya, as well as the issue of migration.

Turkey hosts approximately four million migrants and refugees and Erdoğan has repeatedly threatened to open the “Aegean doors” unless further EU financial assistance is provided to Ankara.

A European Commission official told last month that the executive has already earmarked €6 billion for Turkey to handle migration flows. Asked if more money could be disbursed, the official did not rule it out in the event the circumstances deteriorate.

But the German Parliament’s Scientific Service’s opinion, published yesterday, that the Turkish-Libyan MoU is incompatible with international law and violates the Convention on International Maritime Law is expected to be a thorn in the talks.

Although not binding, the opinion comes at a crucial political moment ahead of Merkel’s visit and aligns with the official conclusions of the latest EU Council.

Erdoğan told Merkel today that more pressure should be put on the head of the Libyan National Army, General Khalifa Haftar, in order to halt attacks against residential areas in Tripoli.

Erdoğan signed the controversial MoU with the UN-backed government (GNA) of Fayez al-Sarraj, who is a rival to Haftar.

[Edited by Natasha Foote]

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