Lithuanian interior minister says emailed bomb threats are coordinated regional cyber-attack

  • 2023-10-17
  • LETA/BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – Interior Minister Agne Bilotaite said on Tuesday that the continuing barrage of emailed bomb threats is a cyberattack on a regional scale, adding that Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia will discuss a coordinated response.

"This is an attempt to create a certain panic, to destabilize the situation in a sense, and to burden institutions, especially law enforcement, with an additional load," Bilotaite told a news conference.

"We can safely say that this is an organized cyber-attack on a regional scale, because it is not only our country that is under attack, but also our neighbors," she said. 

The minister said she will discuss the situation with her Latvian and Estonian counterparts later on Tuesday.

"Today, I will discuss this with (...) the Latvian and Estonian interior ministers. We will discuss the situations in their countries, their practices, and action coordination," she said. 

According Bilotaite, Lithuania's Criminal Police Bureau has carried out a threat assessment and concluded that the threatening email messages "are false and there is no real danger".

The minister also said that a pre-trial investigation is underway.

"Inquiries have also been sent to Google and interim answers have already been received. The information is currently being assessed and analyzed; it will be very important. Cooperation with our foreign law enforcement partners is ongoing," she said.

Police Commissioner General Renatas Pozela said that experts have traced 15 Gmail addresses from which the threats were sent. 

"It has been established that the senders of the e-mails are actively participating in Telegram channels created by Russian-speaking pro-Russian groups and instigating (the spreading of) e-mails threatening to blow up educational establishments," he said. 

The police chief named the Telegram channels: Pribaltiskiy, Riga Gamer and Pribaltiskiy Front. 

He said that the Lithuanian police are collaborating with Latvian and Polish officials and exchanging up-to-date information.

According to Bilotaite, in response to the hoax bomb threats, Lithuanian law enforcement bodies and their partners are also developing "filtering and blocking" tools.

The Lithuanian police said on Monday that 1,500 recipients had received the previous night identical e-mail messages with a warning that explosives had been planted in educational establishments, municipal buildings and other public locations across the country.

Last Friday, schools and kindergartens across Lithuania received 900 bomb threats, all of which proved to be hoaxes. Similar emails kept coming in over the weekend.

The Lithuanian State Security Department has said that the barrage of bomb threats is "a coordinated attack carried out at the initiative of hostile states".