While the U.S. frets over potential cyberattacks derailing the presidential election on November 8, cybercriminals attempted to disrupt the parliamentary elections in Montenegro on Sunday.
The vote was hotly contested between parties that split over the issue of greater integration with Europe or closer ties to Russia. But while Montenegrins went the polls, several media and government websites buckled under the weight of DDoS attacks from an unknown source, according to the Ministry for Information Society and Telecommunications of Montenegro.
The attackers targeted several sites including the news service CDM, radio station Antena M, and the website of the ruling political party, Democratic Party of Socialists of Montenegro. Since last Thursday, the website of political non-governmental organization the Centre for Democratic Transition was knocked offline (access is still patchy as of this writing), and mobile carrier T-kom experienced a wave of attacks, too.
Montenegrin officials told reporters at Euractiv that many of the attacks have been endured and service for most government sites was returning to normal. The ministry has not responded to our requests for comment over who it believes was responsible for the series of DDOS attacks. However, the pattern of attacks – news media, party websites, and NGOs – would suggest an attempt to stifle the flow of information in the run-up to the election.
Ultimately, Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic of the Democratic Party of Socialists, whose site was crippled by Sunday’s DDOS attacks, was re-elected but without a majority and will need to form a government. If successful, he plans on his government joining the EU and NATO rather than building further links with Russia.
Djukanovic’s own campaign was not without its own controversy, as WhatsApp and Viber were blocked on polling day to prevent “unlawful marketing.” Opposition politicians called it an attempt to block the flow of information among voters.
While Djukanovic’s party was targeted by the DDOS attacks, it remains unclear where exactly the attackers’ allegiances lay.
These parliamentary elections were also marred by much controversy before the day of the vote, including an attempted coup by Serbian paramilitaries in the country.
Back in the U.S., polling day is around the corner a,nd this incident may serve as a warning of sorts over potential cyberattacks on the country. The U.S. has, after all, officially accused Russia of interfering in the election.