GRC Viewpoint

New DDoS attacks jeopardize media freedom in Europe

The International Press Institute (IPI) is deeply concerned about the recent spike in distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks targeting media outlets in Hungary, Bosnia, Malta, and Ukraine. These cyber-attacks are increasingly threatening media freedom, disrupting the flow of information and hindering public access to independent journalism.

In January, renewed DDoS attacks hit independent media in Hungary, including Media1, Telex, Kecsup, and Forbes Hungary, orchestrated by an unknown attacker named “Hano.” Since April 2023, Hungarian news outlets such as Media1, Kecsup, Telex, HVG,, Magyar Hang, and Népszava have faced repeated cyberattacks. The situation escalated in May and June, affecting over 40 media websites. During these attacks, “Hano” repeatedly appeared in server logs of the targeted outlets.

In September, IPI itself became a target, facing a DDoS attack that took its website offline for three days. The attack, also attributed to Hano, led to a forensic investigation. While the investigation identified the digital infrastructure used, it failed to pinpoint the person behind the attack.

IPI has also tracked similar attacks across Europe. In Bosnia, the news outlet BUKA announced on January 8 that its website had suffered a large-scale cyberattack that continued into early February. In Ukraine, major outlets like Censor.Net,, Ukrainska Pravda, Dim, and Freedom experienced a wave of attacks. On February 6, the Times of Malta’s website was hit, making it temporarily inaccessible. To mitigate these attacks, some media had to block server requests from certain countries, restricting access for readers in those regions.

The surge in cyberattacks on European news outlets is alarming and calls for a robust response from law enforcement and infrastructure companies. These DDoS attacks, being inexpensive, easy to execute, and hard to trace, pose a significant threat to media operations and public access to information. The recent attacks in Hungary, Bosnia, Malta, and Ukraine underscore the urgent need for action to protect digital security for media outlets.

IPI urges national authorities in the affected countries, along with European authorities, to identify and prosecute the perpetrators. Strengthening cybersecurity must be a priority, especially with the upcoming EU elections, as these attacks could jeopardize the flow of information during this crucial period.

For media to bolster their cybersecurity defenses, sustainable funding and technical support are essential. This ensures the continued operation of independent journalism and the protection of free speech amid growing digital threats.

IPI stands with the affected media and journalists, committed to monitoring developments and advocating for media freedom against evolving cyber threats.

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