In September 2016, Austria started experiencing what its intelligence services have since described as the country’s first bout of cyberterrorism. In that month, there was a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack on the Vienna Airport, followed by a paralysis of the National Bank (“the biggest attack in recent years,” a spokesperson said). In November, the websites of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Foreign Defense, and the Federal Army were all attacked.
Austrian Intelligence eventually traced the attack back to one individual, Arslan A., alias Osman T., aka General Osman, who was living in a bungalow in Bowling Green, Kentucky. General Osman is part of a Turkish nationalist group called Aslan Neferler Tim (ANT, or Lion Soldiers Team in Turkish).
The attacks on Austria were some of the most high-profile stunts by ANT to date, but they were hardly the last. Instead, as President Recep Erdoğan’s creep toward authoritarianism pushes him further out of favor with EU leaders in Brussels, ANT’s attacks are proliferating, placing further strain on an already frayed relationship. “I would say they are the most prominent hacker group in Turkey,” Cosimo Mortola, a threat intelligence analyst with the cybersecurity company Fireeye, told VICE News.