European Interest

Cyberattack on IPI: Evidence points to retaliation for press freedom work in Hungary


Since September 1, the International Press Institute (IPI) has been battling a targeted and sustained cyberattack. This attack is retaliation for IPI advocacy work on behalf of independent media in Hungary, which has faced similar attacks since this summer.

The attack on IPI began with a series of distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks that initially took IPI’s website offline for three days. The Institute restored the website after scaling up security measures. However, it continues to experience milder DDoS attacks alongside efforts by attackers to breach the website.

This ongoing cyberattack is the most brazen and direct attack on IPI’s online infrastructure in the organization’s history. It reflects a broader and profoundly alarming pattern of the abuse of digital tools by malicious actors to attack and silence critical journalists and those who work to defend them.

This cyberattack began just days after IPI released a statement highlighting a recent wave of DDoS attacks that have downed the websites of dozens of independent media outlets in Hungary over the past five months. The report correctly described these DDoS attacks as a new form of digital censorship further threatening Hungary’s already besieged independent media. IPI also called on Hungarian law enforcement to identify and hold those responsible to account and urged greater attention from the European Union.

Evidence of the attack on IPI shows the same cybercriminal or criminals behind the ongoing DDoS attacks in Hungary. These attackers left behind a message warning of another attack. IPI believes this is a deliberate and targeted attack on the organisation in retaliation for illuminating this dangerous new front in the war against Hungary’s independent media.

“While these attacks have disrupted our work, they have only strengthened our resolve,” said Khadija Patel, IPI’s global Executive Board chair. “We are more committed than ever to our mission of defending press freedom and independent journalism wherever they are threatened. We will continue to stand by independent media in Hungary and around the world,” added Patel.

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