Italy investigates foreign ministry hacking attempt

ROME (Reuters) - Italy’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday it was investigating a hacking attempt, after a group calling itself Anonymous published what it said was stolen ministry data.

FILE PHOTO: A man types on a computer keyboard in front of the displayed cyber code in this illustration picture taken March 1, 2017. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/Illustration/File Photo

A site called carried a blog post titled “Foreign Affairs Ministry You Have Been Hacked” addressed to Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano and the head of the national magistrates association.

“Regarding the attempted hack of the ministry’s website, a legal complaint has been lodged and investigations are now underway,” the ministry said in a statement.

“We hope the public prosecutor’s office will shed light as soon as possible on what happened, and, to this end, the ministry’s technicians are working to give all possible support.”

The ministry did not name suspected perpetrators or give details about the hacking attempt, and it was not immediately clear if any sensitive information had been leaked.

“Do keep having fun at your summits, in your commissions ... G7, G8, Intelligence, surveillance, terrorism,” read the blog post, dated June 19 and signed “We are Anonymous”, and “We are AntiSec Italy” in an apparent reference to an Anonymous-affiliated group.

“We already knew that we Italians were paying,” the post continued. “In the meantime please enjoy the uncensored publication of some data stolen from your precious information systems.”

Uploaded to the website were tables entitled “staff accommodation”, “travel/expenses”, including lists of names and amounts of money in euros.

There were also links to Excel files, some containing hundreds of email addresses, and others named “security conditions” and “sanitary conditions”.

The foreign ministry said earlier this year it was stepping up cyber security after hackers attacked its system over a four-month period in 2016.

Tuesday’s statement said “every ministry invoice is duly examined by the state accounting office and complies with the legitimate operating needs of the administration”.

Anonymous is an international group of hackers and activists who have orchestrated hacks on U.S. institutions and gained notoriety in the virtual world by participating in protests wearing masks representing 16th-century plotter Guy Fawkes.

Reporting by Isla Binnie, editing by Pritha Sarkar