Swiss close investigation into cyber attack on defence firm

The hack first took place in 2014 and the intelligence services responded in 2016 following a tip from abroad. © KEYSTONE / GEORGIOS KEFALAS

The Attorney General’s Office has suspended criminal proceedings in connection with the cyberattacks carried out against government-owned defence firm Ruag in 2014. The source of the attacks could not be identified. 

The Attorney General opened an investigation two years ago on the grounds of economic espionage carried out against the Swiss aerospace and defence group Ruag. The hack first took place in December 2014 and the intelligence services responded in January 2016 following a tip from abroad. The authorities insisted it did not involve information that would compromise national security. 

The Swiss media reported at the time that computer piracy operation against Ruag was carried out from Russia. However, there was no official confirmation. 

"The authors and their location remain unknown. This means that we cannot identify the perpetrators of the attack," spokesman André Marty told Swiss public radio SRF on Monday. "Generally, and without making any links with a specific criminal case, we can say that, faced with such complex realities, only state actors can be taken into account.” 

No mutual legal assistance

According to Marty, Switzerland does not request mutual legal assistance for political offences such as espionage. He did not say whether Switzerland intended to ask Russia or any other country for help. 

"Mutual legal assistance makes sense if we assume that the authorities abroad also have an interest in answering our questions. If this is not the case, a request for mutual assistance makes relatively little sense," he said. 

This means that the Attorney General’s Office would need to find new evidence to restart the process. 

This is not the only high-profile cyberattack inflicted on sensitive Swiss domains. The federal departments of defence and foreign affairs also suffered cyberattacks last year. Here too, specialists suspected Russia and the Attorney General opened criminal proceedings before suspending them.


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