June 24, 2024 By Jennifer Gregory 3 min read

Visitors to the Polish Press Agency (PAP) website on May 31 at 2 p.m. Polish time were met with an unusual message. Instead of the typical daily news, the state-run newspaper had supposedly published a story announcing that a partial mobilization, which means calling up specific people to serve in the armed forces, was ordered by Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk beginning on July 1, 2024.

Deputy Prime Minister Krzysztof Gawkowski refuted the claim on X (formerly Twitter). His post read: “The message [from] @PAPinformacje regarding partial mobilization is false. We have started urgently investigating the matter. Everything points to a cyberattack and planned disinformation! I will keep you updated on further arrangements.”

After this cyberattack, Poland announced that it is increasing its cybersecurity spending to almost $760 million to improve digital security.

Suspected Russian-directed malware attack spreading misinformation

In an interview, Gawkowski told Polsat News that the goal of the attack was to spread disinformation before the elections, to paralyze society. He also shared that the false posts were delivered through malware and were spotted within two minutes.

“Everything indicates that we are dealing with a cyberattack that was directed from the Russian side,” says Gawkowski. “And the goal: disinformation before the elections, paralyzing society, showing that Russia can interfere in the elections in Poland today,” he said.

While Gawkowski states that Russia allegedly conducted the attack, Russia has denied all claims.

Using funds to improve digital security

The Polish government wants to be prepared for future attacks. Gawkowski announced a plan for an increased cybersecurity budget on June 3, 2024.

“We want to allocate over 3 billion zlotys for a ‘Cyber Shield,’” said Gawkowski in a news conference. “Today, Poland is on the frontline of the cyber fight against Russia. Poland has the most attacks. (Russia) has one goal — to destabilize the situation and ensure that the forces supporting the breakup of the EU can benefit,” Gawkowski added.

Gawkowski said that the new funding plan will be a joint effort by the government, of the Ministries of Interior and Digitalization. The additional funds will be used to create a cyber shield that will carry out regular security reviews and build resilience at the critical infrastructure level. The goal of these efforts is to show the world that Poland is a leader in both digital security and digital change in Europe. He said that specific details regarding the steps the government is planning to take are being kept confidential to protect the country.

Protecting against disinformation attacks

Poland suffered a disinformation attack, which happens when cyber criminals mislead, cause harm or profit from spreading falsehoods. The goal of this type of attack is deception. Often, it’s multi-pronged, with the information being disseminated in different ways and locations.

Here are tips for reducing risk and preparing to manage a disinformation attack:

  1. Use social media monitoring tools. Because social media is often the channel used for disinformation attacks, organizations can reduce their risk by monitoring social media platforms for potential attacks.
  2. Provide training. Often, training for this type of attack is overlooked, both in how to spot it and how to respond. Because there is a public relations component, be sure to include your communications team in the preparation.
  3. Include disinformation attacks in your crisis response plan. Because the response to this attack is usually a bit different, be sure to include a section in your plan detailing how to respond.

By focusing on this type of attack as well as creating a cyber shield, businesses and nation-states can reduce the risk of a disinformation attack and recover more quickly when it happens.

To learn how IBM X-Force can help you with anything regarding cybersecurity including incident response, threat intelligence, or offensive security services schedule a meeting here.

If you are experiencing cybersecurity issues or an incident, contact X-Force to help: US hotline 1-888-241-9812 | Global hotline (+001) 312-212-8034.

More from News

Hackers are increasingly targeting auto dealers

3 min read - Update as of July 11, 2024 In late June, more than 15,000 car dealerships across North America were affected by a cyberattack on CDK Global, which provides software to car dealers. After two cyberattacks over two days, CDK shut down all systems, which caused delays for car buyers and disruptions for the dealerships. Many dealerships went back to manual processes, including handwriting up orders, so that sales could continue at a slower pace. Car buyers who recently bought a car from…

CISA director says banning ransomware payments is off the table

3 min read - The FBI, CISA and NSA all strongly advise against organizations making ransomware payments if they fall victim to ransomware attacks. If so, why not place a ban on paying ransomware demands? The topic came up at a recent Oxford Cyber Forum. Jen Easterly, Director of CISA, commented on the issue, saying, “I think within our system in the U.S. — just from a practical perspective — I don’t see it happening.” It’s unlikely this was a purely spontaneous remark as the…

A proactive cybersecurity policy is not just smart — it’s essential

3 min read - It’s easy to focus on the “after” when it comes to cybersecurity: How to stop an attack after it begins and how to recover when it's over. But while a reactive response sort of worked in the past, it simply is not good enough in today’s world. Not only are attacks more intense and more damaging than ever before, but cyber criminals also use so many different attack methods. Zscaler ThreatLabz 2024 Phishing Report found that phishing attacks increased by…

Topic updates

Get email updates and stay ahead of the latest threats to the security landscape, thought leadership and research.
Subscribe today