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ST denies network was hacked

SLOVAK Telecom (ST) has denied information published on June 9 in several media that the company was victim of an attack by hackers over the June 7-8 weekend.
The hackers are said to have broken into the ST network and gained unauthorised access to data transferred via the internet by ST clients, including major banks, insurance companies, and government institutions.
The unknown perpetrators also copied the telephone company's database of fixed-line telephone users to a hacking web site, allowing visitors to search among names, addresses, and telephone numbers of all of ST's clients.

SLOVAK Telecom (ST) has denied information published on June 9 in several media that the company was victim of an attack by hackers over the June 7-8 weekend.

The hackers are said to have broken into the ST network and gained unauthorised access to data transferred via the internet by ST clients, including major banks, insurance companies, and government institutions.

The unknown perpetrators also copied the telephone company's database of fixed-line telephone users to a hacking web site, allowing visitors to search among names, addresses, and telephone numbers of all of ST's clients.

But ST says that it did not record any entry into its internet network last weekend. The published technical parameters, including IP addresses of some routers, were accessed around two months ago, and the company then carried out measures to restrict a repeat of such a situation, said ST officials.

According to press reports, hackers could have entered the e-mail networks of companies like insurance provider Allianz, VÚB Bank, TV Markíza, and Matsushita (Panasonic), as well as state institutions like the Deposit Protection Fund (FOV) and the Interior Ministry. The Croatian Embassy was also mentioned.

FOV president Rudolf Šujan said misuse of information would not be possible, as FOV uses e-mail only for ordinary communication, while confidential information is transferred via special electronic carriers and handled personally. Representatives of other state institutions said that a leak of confidential information would not have been possible.

But internet discussion forums in Slovakia were buzzing over the weekend with congratulations to the hackers for breaking into ST's system. Many internet users in Slovakia blame the dominant telecom operator for holding back internet development in the country through high prices and preventing carrier choice.

Peter Polakovič, president of the NGO Internet for Everybody, said he thought ST responded in a very unfortunate way to the announcement of the hacking.

"ST's reaction contains many inaccuracies," he said, adding that based on information the hacker put on a web site, access to confidential information was quite possible.

Peter Paluch, journalist with PC Revue, agreed with Polakovič. He did not rule out that the information gathered could be misused. He said the hacker could track any e-mail communication of ST clients.

According to experts, it is very probable that the hacker is a former employee of ST, or someone else with access to primary passwords.

Two other major Slovak internet service providers, EuroWeb and Nextra, say they doubt anything similar could happen to them.


- From press reports

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