Poland’s defence minister named an army general to lead a new Cyber Defense Force on Tuesday, marking the start of the unit’s operations.
The force’s mandate, according to Protection Minister Mariusz Blaszczak, includes defence, reconnaissance, and, if necessary, offensive activities to safeguard Poland’s Armed Forces against cyberattacks.
“We are fully aware that in the twenty-first century, cyberattacks have evolved into one of the tactics of aggressive politics, which is also being employed by our neighbour,” Blaszczak stated, presumably alluding to Russia. “As a result, these skills are of fundamental and critical importance to Poland’s Armed Forces.”
Brig. Gen. Karol Molenda was named by Blaszczak to lead the unit, which will work closely with the National Center for Cyber Security, which was established in 2019.
Hacking of Poland’s state offices and businesses occurs on a regular basis.
Last year, emails from Michal Dworczyk, the head of Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki’s office, were allegedly leaked and made public on the internet, casting doubt on several government officials and choices. Dworczyk denies they are genuine, but the circumstances suggest that at least some of them are.
Last year, Canadian experts discovered that NSO’s Pegasus malware had been used to target a Polish senator, a Polish lawyer, and a Polish prosecutor, all of whom are critics of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party. They were the first evidence that a technology routinely employed by repressive governments throughout the world had been deployed in a European Union country.
The ruling party denies eavesdropping on rivals, but admits to having Pegasus.
The discovery sparked an investigation in the Senate, which is controlled by the opposition.
Pegasus hacked a 33-year-old farmer who was trying to launch a political party in Poland many times in May 2019, according to Canadian analysts.