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Hackers breach the systems of the International Criminal Court

The systems of the International Criminal Court (ICC) were breached by threat actors in a cyber incident last week.

user iconDaniel Croft 28 September 2023 The Bar
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Editor’s note: This article originally appeared on Lawyers Weekly’s sister brand, Cyber Security Connect.

According to a statement issued by the ICC, anomalous activity was detected last week on the court’s information systems.

“Immediate measures were adopted to respond to this cyber security incident and to mitigate its impact,” the court said in a statement posted to X (formerly Twitter).


The court has expressed gratitude to its host country, the Netherlands, for its assistance in investigating the breach. It has also said it plans to strengthen its security.

The court is currently conducting 17 investigations into war crimes in Ukraine, Uganda, Afghanistan, the Philippines, Venezuela and more.

If documents have been stolen, they could very likely be highly sensitive details of specific cases or contain the information of prosecutors or staff.

The court also came under the spotlight when it issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin for the alleged illegal deportation of children from Ukraine, an accusation that Russia has rejected.

Last year, the Dutch intelligence agency said the ICC was of interest to Russia due to its investigation of Russian war crimes. It also found that a Russian military agent had attempted to infiltrate the ICC.

State-sponsored Russian cyber attacks are becoming more and more common, particularly as the conflict in Ukraine continues to develop.

Earlier this month, the ICC announced that it will now prosecute cyber war crimes, something Ukraine has been requesting for a number of months.

“As states and other actors increasingly resort to operations in cyber space, this new and rapidly developing means of statecraft and warfare can be misused to carry out or facilitate war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide, and even the aggression of one state against another,” said ICC lead prosecutor Karim Khan said.

“Attempts to impact critical infrastructure such as medical facilities or control systems for power generation may result in immediate consequences for many, particularly the most vulnerable.

“Consequently, as part of its investigations, my office will collect and review evidence of such conduct.”

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