* "Stemwijzer" and "Kiescompas" websites popular with voters
* Site access returned but remains under attack
* Breach follows defacement of other websites in Turkey row
AMSTERDAM, March 15 Two publicly-funded websites
used by Dutch voters to help them decide which party to vote for
in their national election were inaccessible on Wednesday,
apparently victims of a cyber attack.
The sites, "Stemwijzer" and "Kiescompas", are extremely
popular, with nearly half of eligible voters using one or the
other in the last national election in 2012. However, most
voters use them in the weeks ahead of voting, not on election
Organisers of Stemwijzer tweeted confirmation that their
website was being subjected to a distributed denial-of-service,
or 'DDoS' attack.
"Our website has alas just been hit by a DDoS attack. Our
priority is in getting the StemWijzer back on line again as
quickly as possible," they said in a tweet Wednesday morning.
Spokeswoman Anita de Jong of ProDemos, the organisation that
runs the Stemwijzer, later said the site was accessible again
but added the site remained under attack.
"We're seeing a lot of international traffic. What happens
is we are able to solve the problem for a while, and then it
resurfaces," she said.
The "StemWijzer" or "voting compass" site asks potential
voters 30 questions and then tells them which party best matches
Experts say voters rarely change their mind based on the
results and have usually decided which party they intend to vote
for in advance, with the site acting as a confirmation.
It was not clear whether Wednesday's attacks were related to
a Dutch diplomatic row with Turkey that broke out over the
weekend, which led to the temporary defacement of numerous small
websites in the Netherlands.
Separately on Wednesday, several large Twitter accounts
including that of the European Parliament, Reuters Japan, Die
Welt, Forbes, Amnesty International and Duke University were
hijacked temporarily, apparently by Turkish
In January, the Dutch government decided that all votes in
the election would be hand-counted, after the intelligence
agency warned foreign governments could attempt to influence
elections by hacking computer systems.
(Reporting by Toby Sterling; Editing by Julia Glover)