Hackers Release Personal Data On Hundreds Of German Politicians

The personal data of hundreds of German politicians including Chancellor Angela Merkel have been released in the largest data dump of its kind in the country, according to the Bloomberg

The leaked information includes personal chat transcripts, mobile phone numbers, email addresses and photo IDs, according to a review of the records. The records have been released over the past several weeks beginning right before Christmas via a Twitter account named “G0d,” which has been around since mid-2017 and identifies as a Hamburg-based “artist” involved in “security researching” and “satire & irony.” 

Notably, Germany’s right-wing party, AfD, was unaffected by the hack. 

It looks like the hackers got the passwords to Facebook accounts and Twitter profiles and worked their way up from there, said Simon Hegelich, a political scientist at Munich’s Technical University who has studied the manipulation of social networks.

“It’s a very elaborately done social engineering attack,” he said Friday by phone. “It’s a lot of data that’s been dumped.”

The German government is taking the attack “very seriously,” spokeswoman Martina Fietz said a briefing with reporters on Friday. –Bloomberg

“I can confirm that there has been an incident,” said a Linke party spokesman, whose members were among those targeted. That said, no politically sensitive documents have been released as part of the breach, and some of the information appeared to be several years old. 

Germany’s Federal Office for Information Security, known as BSI, is heading the investigation into the data dump at its cyber defense center. So far the agency has no indication that government networks have been affected, the BSI said on Twitter. Germany’s domestic intelligence agency BfV is reviewing the data and can’t yet comment because of the volume, a spokeswoman said. –Bloomberg

The perpetrators want to erode trust in our democracy and in our institutions,” said German Justice Minister Katarina Barley to news agency DPA. “Criminals and their backers must not be allowed to dictate debate in our nation.” 

It is unknown if the hack is connected to a 2015 incident in which the Bundestag parliament network was breached and 16 gigabytes of data was stolen. According to security firm Trend Micro, the Bundestag attack and others have been linked to the hacking group Pawn Storm. 

“This hack is different from breaching the Bundestag networks — which required a much higher level of sophistication,” said Munich Technical University political scientist Simon Heglich. “But they’re no kids either. It’s people that know about IT security.

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