Hundreds of institutions, public bodies and businesses were hit by a late-night wave of emails in Estonia which contain error-ridden Russian-language text and which issue a bomb threat. The police say the emails constitute spam rather than a clear and present threat.
The threatening emails were received by schools and kindergartens, among other institutions, though the standard of the Russian contained was, ERR reports, not high and contained errors.
Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) spokesperson Heigo Reinek said: "A similar wave of bomb threats hit Latvia a few days ago. The PPA's current assessment is that this is part of a mass wave of spam emails aimed at disrupting the recipient institutions' work. The PPA is communicating with those institutions who have received these emails, and are working to find out their origin."
ERR obtained a copy of the email sent at 2.28 a.m. on Thursday, to hundreds of email addresses, with recipients including local governments, Tallinn Airport and other transport hubs, sports clubs and museums, as well as schools.
The sender, maned as one Kevin Weaver, claimed to be simultaneously a member of the Russian intelligence services and an Islamist terror group, while the text – which ERR reports a native speaker of Russian would not find easy to take seriously due to the number of errors contained – was "signed" by an Andrei Glubokoslavski.
Latvia has already been subject to the same pattern of mass threatening emails, public broadcaster LSM reports, most recently this week.
While the phenomenon is not new, Latvia's State Police Chief Armands Ruks said, this particular culprit has targeted the U.S. and Poland, though the actual threat risk level remains low, he said.
One new aspect is the targeting of schools and kindergartens, he said; this is likely aimed at sowing discord and panic, while the culprit or culprits seem to be comparatively IT-literate even as they may not be fully Russian-language literate.
In fact, Ruks said, this type of attack is not easy and quick to detect, though both Latvia's police and Europol and other agencies do have the IT tools to do so.
The origin is one of " Latvia's unfriendly countries, which may hinder the rapid resolution of this series of alleged repeated attacks," Ruks added.
An active investigation and criminal proceedings are underway, LSM reports.
Edite Kanavina, head of Latvia's Education Department at the Ministry of Education and Science, said that now the spam emails have become somewhat normalized, uniform procedures are in place to ensure education is not disrupted, while following the advice of the police and security services where necessary.
Editor: Andrew Whyte, Urmet Kook