The International Criminal Court (ICC) declared on Friday that the serious cybersecurity incident detected in September was an act of espionage.
In a statement on the court’s website, he said the attack could be “interpreted as a serious attempt to undermine the mandate of the court.”
The statement did not suggest any perpetrator, but the court – based in The Hague in the Netherlands – said Dutch law enforcement authorities were conducting a criminal investigation.
It is unclear what information, if any, was stolen in the incident. As part of its functions, the Court processes sensitive information relating to war crimes investigations, including data on witnesses who could be at risk if their identity were revealed.
“If it turns out that specific data entrusted to the Court has been compromised, the individuals concerned will be contacted immediately and directly by the Court,” the ICC said.
Following the attack, the ICC said it was “identifying actions and procedures to be prepared to respond to any potential repercussions of the cyberattack, including any potential risks to the security of victims and witnesses, of Court officials and Court operations”.
He noted that the attack comes at a time of “broader and heightened security concerns for the Court,” including threats against several of its elected officials.
Following the Court’s decision to issue arrest warrants against Russian President Vladimir Putin, as well as against Russian Commissioner for Children’s Rights Maria Lvova-Belova for the expulsion of Ukrainian children to Russia, the Russian authorities in turn issued arrest warrants against the president of the ICC, his deputy, and one of his judges.
In June 2022, Dutch intelligence arrested a suspected Russian military intelligence officer using an elaborate fake Brazilian identity to try to infiltrate the ICC. The man has since been deported to Brazil, where he is being prosecuted for using false documents.
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Alexander Martin is the UK editor of Recorded Future News. He was previously a technology journalist for Sky News and is also a member of the European Cyber Conflict Research Initiative.