German data breach affects hundreds of politicians

BSI: German MP Informed BSI in December of Suspicious Activity on Private E-mail

BSI: German MP Informed BSI in December of Suspicious Activity on Private E-mail

German Chancellor Angela Merkel was just one of several hundred politicians and high-profile persons targeted in a mass cyber theft in recent weeks. "Why nobody took note of the leaks until Thursday evening is puzzling", said Michael Goetschenberg, the responsible journalist at RBB.

Germany Justice Minister Katarina Barley said the federal government condemned the cyberattacks and said the perpetrators sought to damage confidence in the country's democracy and its institutions.

How the hacker acquired the data isn't known.

German cyber-security analyst Sven Herpig said Russian Federation was a suspect, first because of the method used but also because Germany was facing four state elections in 2019 as well as elections to the European Parliament.

The BSI said in a statement that it was contacted by a lawmaker in early December about suspicious activity on their private email and social media accounts.

By its own account, the Federal Criminal Police Office only learned of the data hack on Friday, shortly before it became public, according to a document the top investigative body sent to lawmakers.

While early reports said that there was nothing politically sensitive amongst the data, Julian Röpcke of Bild tweeted that he had found "shocking" details related to nepotism, and that the data stretches back to 2009. He said the agency believes data on about 1,000 people were involved, and confirmed that one party in parliament wasn't affected - though he wouldn't name it. The national cyber-defence centre convened a meeting on Friday morning.

A government spokeswoman said no sensitive data from the chancellor's office had been published. Over the last week of December, files with personal data of hundreds of German politicians, bloggers, and celebrities was posted via links from the account.

A link to Merkel's data showed two email addresses used by the chancellor, a fax number and letters apparently written by her and to her.

Security officials have blamed most previous attacks on a Russian hacking group, APT28, that experts say has close ties to a Russian spy agency.

All major German parties except for the far-right AfD are affected.

The leak, which saw the data posted in daily batches before Christmas on a Twitter account that has been active since mid-2017, affects all parties in parliament except the far-right Alternative for Germany, public broadcaster RBB reported.

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