The Hungarian authorities knew about a large-scale Russian cyber attack on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but publicly called it a fabrication

Liza Brovko

In March 2022, the Hungarian media reported on a large-scale cyber attack on the IT network of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Hungary by Russian special services. The department itself denied this and called it a pre-election lie, but now journalists have found documents that show that not only was there a cyber attack, but they knew about it.

The Hungarian publication 444 writes about it.

Journalists got access to internal documents that show that the head of one of the Hungarian special services clearly describes large-scale cyber attacks and names the perpetrators.

Russian hackers compromised more than 930 servers, a mail service, a file server service, and systems that perform identification and user authorization management.

In addition, hackers managed to see letters, files, personal data of employees of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and many other confidential information.

In a letter to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the head of the Hungarian special service writes that APT 28, linked to the GRU of the Russian Federation, and ART 29, linked to the FSB or the Foreign Intelligence Service of the Russian Federation, may be involved in the attack. In the text, the group was designated as APT, which translates into English as Advanced Persistent Threat. This is the designation of hacker groups, usually state-owned or state-sponsored.

The other day, Prime Minister Viktor Orban stated that Hungary supposedly has "the best national security system in Europe in terms of technical and human capabilities." On this occasion, journalists asked Foreign Minister Peter Szijjártó about the cyber attack in 2022: how hackers from the Russian intelligence service were able to penetrate the ministryʼs system and steal a large amount of data from it.

At first Szijjarto denied that he knew of such a thing, but when he was shown an internal document proving that it had happened, he said that "organizations that have the authority and the ability to do so" had taken the necessary measures.

At the same time, the Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs questioned whether the media legally received the internal documents of the department and whether it checked the information. Journalists assured that the received documents are not subject to the Law on the Protection of Secret Data, and they are also authentic.