Hungarian elections halted by cyber attack

News / Hungarian elections halted by cyber attack

Hungarian elections halted by cyber attack

On the day of the first round of the 2021 Hungarian opposition primary, a cyberattack halted proceedings in the early afternoon. Organizers have stated that the IT system responsible for administration of the votes was overloaded. 

The primary was the first of its kind to be held in Hungary, with voters trying to determine a candidate from the opposition parties to challenge current serving Prime Minister Viktor Orban. 

However, a mere two hours after polling began, the voting was completely suspended.  

Initially, the National Party Election Comission, the organizers of the event, remarked an unexpected high level of voter traffic, but upon further investigation released the following statement which confirms the cyber-attack on their network, 

“Over the past three hours, we have been conducting a detailed technical analysis of the phenomenon that slowed down the IT system of the primary election this morning. It has now become absolutely clear that between 6 am and 10 am this morning, in addition to the masses of voters who wanted change, there were others interested in the primary: there is currently a mass load of unknown origin on the IT system of the pre-election”. 

Opposition parties have been quick to accuse Prime Minister Orban’s own government, alluding to the fact the attack was planned by government with the aid of Chinese operators. 

A member of aHang, the organization responsible for the technical aspects of the elections is quoted as saying that “This kind of attack was a much bigger one than we ever imagined might happen” and that “there was an attack, most probably from abroad, but the investigation is still ongoing" 

Despite this, Orban’s party denied any wrongdoing and instead issued a scathing retort to the opposing parties, blaming their “incompetence” in a statement regarding the incident, “Don’t blame your own blunders on others!”. Other pro government outlets have sustained the statements made by the Fidesz Party, also damning the election as having “huge organisational problems”. However, amidst numerous accusations of corruption and clashes with both Brussels as well as opposing parties, their statements remain in question. 

Following the attack, which despite pro-government statements has been confirmed to be a deliberate denial of service overload attack on the system, the opposing parties issued the following joint statement: 

“No matter how many attacks come from anywhere, from anyone, no force can stop the historic process at the end of which the citizens of Hungary will be able to choose who will be the prime ministerial candidate of the democratic opposition and who will face the people in power in the 2022 parliamentary elections.” 

The system has since been restored and renewed, and voting is set to be extended by a further two days to compensate for the downtime.

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