The communications police unit admitted it had been hacked but did not confirm or deny that any information had been stolen, while lawmakers condemned an “unprecedented” attack that had breached Italy’s security.
The attack dubbed Operation Italy “revealed some of the most important and most secret reports of the cyber police on illegal and immoral practices,” hacker groups LulzSec and Anonymous said in a statement on a blog.
The leaked reports “will show abuses committed in Europe by the CNAIPIC (National Centre against Cyber Crime and for the Protection of Critical Infrastructure),” they said on the site anonops-ita.blogspot.com.
The information published by the hackers so far consists of eight megabytes of documents on a variety of Italian government interactions with ministries and business groups in Australia, Belarus, Egypt, Russia and Ukraine.
Hackers said the documents represented only one percent of the total cache.
“We are working to try to understand the scale of what happened,” the police unit said. “We have to verify if documents have been taken and which ones.”
Emanuele Fiano, a lawmaker from the opposition Democratic Party, said: “This cyber attack against the police task force is of an unprecedented gravity.”
He said he would propose new legislation to crack down on hackers “in order to improve this fundamental aspect of our country’s security.”
Another Democratic Party deputy, Ettore Rosato, said the attack was “very worrying,” adding: “We are waiting to hear about the files published by the hackers. If they are originals, this is an act of unprecedented seriousness.”
CNAIPIC was set up in 2008 with the aim of cracking down on cyber crime.
The attack comes after Anonymous and LulzSec vowed Thursday to continue their struggle for transparency, two days after a series of arrests.
In their statement on Monday, the hackers said their move was “a response also to the direct attack against our friends from Anonymous who in recent days have been arrested both in Italy and in Europe and the United States.”
Instead of maintaining a low profile after the arrest of 16 people in the United States and five in Europe in an inquiry led by the FBI against Anonymous, hackers have said that they would widen their struggle.
A month ago LulzSec announced an end to its hacking campaign after an arrest in Britain although it said it was counting on sympathisers to continue.
The group first became known for an attack on Sony and Nintendo video games followed by the CIA, the FBI and Rupert Murdoch’s media empire News Corp.
Hackers claiming membership of the Anonymous collective earlier this year launched cyber attacks on a variety of Italian government and business sites.