Swedish Nov 4 outage due to cyber attack?

Sweden suspects a hacker group linked to Russian intelligence attacked its air traffic control systems on November 4, prompting the widespread cancellation of domestic and international flights, according to aldrimer.no.

Arlanda, Landvetter and Bromma airports were particularly affected when controllers were unable to use display screens.

The Swedish Civil Aviation Administration reportedly blamed a solar storm at the time fo the incident. However, aldrimer said that the Swedes notified NATO about the suspected serious cyber attack.

“The message was passed on to NATO either by Sweden’s National Defence Radio Establishment (Försvarets radioanstalt, FRA) or the Swedish Military Intelligence and Security Service (Militära underrättelse- och säkerhetstjänsten, MUST),” a senior NATO source told aldrimer.

Sweden’s air traffic control systems problems reportedly coincided with Russian electronic warfare activity in the Baltic Sea region, which may have included jamming of air traffic communication channels. The signals reportedly emanated from the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad, south of Lithuania.

The US-based Space Weather Prediction Center issued a geomagnetic storm warning for November 2-3, with solar activity on the key day of November 4 expected to be moderate and declining. Aldrimer suggests the Russians might have been using the solar storm as cover to test the country’s cyber-warfare capabilities on a live target, sensibly one outside of NATO such as Sweden.

Sweden air navigation service provide LFV tells Air Traffic Management: “LFV is currently investigating what happened on November 4. The report is not yet completed.” Another informed source further confided: “We had a similar incident in May and June 2015 with radar outages in and around Austria. Unfortunately, the military always gets blamed first! But, in this case, there may be room for both stories to be partially true.”


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