Catalan authorities suffered a massive cyberattack while the region was voting in an independence ballot outlawed by Madrid, their leader said on Tuesday.
On polling day Sunday, the regional government’s computer systems received 60,000 times more hits than usual in “hard, organized cybernetic attacks,” said Artur Mas, the president of Catalonia.
“They tried to take down the Catalan government’s computer systems.”
He was speaking to reporters in his first public address since Sunday’s polls, in which 2.3 million people turned out to vote on whether the wealthy region should break away from Spain.
Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy fiercely opposed the vote and has not reacted since the polls on Sunday, in which 1.86 million people voted for independence.
Mas reached out to Rajoy on Tuesday, saying it was time Madrid entered into a “permanent dialogue” with Catalonia.
He said he had written to Rajoy inviting him “to set the conditions for a dialogue that is permanent and as constructive as possible.”
The ultimate aim of the dialogue is to hold “a definitive and politically binding consultation” vote, Mas added.
“The issue we are faced with can only be resolved at the top political level.”
Describing the cyberattack, Mas said that hits on his government’s computer systems multiplied 20,000 times on Saturday and 60,000 on Sunday.
“Never before had we suffered an organized attack of such scale and characteristics,” he said, adding that the assault had threatened to disrupt medical services.
“We suspect that it could not just be a few amateur hackers or Twitter users who organized such a thing,” he said. “We are examining another possibility.”
The leading Catalan pro-independence lobby ANC said hundreds of its members who worked as volunteers running Sunday’s vote had their telephones jammed.
One ANC volunteer during the vote showed reporters how his telephone was receiving unsolicited automated calls every 30 seconds for hours.
Mas said he would hold talks over the coming weeks with Catalan political parties that support the right to vote on independence, and plan his next steps.
According to the Government of Catalonia, 90% of the world’s cyber attacks during Catalonia’s independence referendum on Sunday occurred in the region, as the official web pages of pro-independence organisations went offline over the weekend, Catalan News Channel TV3reported on Monday.
The unofficial vote on Catalan independence from Spain was not recognised by Madrid and as such, was organised by local government and cultural organizations. read more
Starting sometime in the afternoon, several websites related to the Catalan Government, including its main website, have not been working properly. When you try to access them, they just won’t load or only their starting page loads. The same thing has been going on, even from earlier on, with the Catalan National Assembly’s (ANC) site and that of the Catalan Towns for Independence (AMI)—although this last one seems to be operational now. On the other hand, the main portal of Participa2014.cat, containing the information related with the 9N referendum, has been read more...