Massive data attack in Germany targets Merkel, hundreds of politicians

Dietmar Bartsch was hit by hackers

Dietmar Bartsch was hit

The personal data and documents of hundreds of politicians and public figures in Germany have been exposed online, a government spokeswoman said Friday.

Merkel, the German chancellor, and Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the president, were among those targeted.

Berlin´s political establishment reacted with alarm.

The true extent of damage caused by the leak is not yet known although Justice Minister Katarina Barley said it was a "serious attack". "Why nobody took note of the leaks until Thursday evening is puzzling", said Michael Goetschenberg, the responsible journalist at RBB.

The daily Bild and public broadcaster RBB first reported the leak. Bild newspaper reported all the data stolen in the attack dated back to before October 2018 but it was not clear when it began. Personal information from artists and journalists with leftist political leanings was also published.

Schoenbohm said "a high two-digit number of attacks" were very successful, with accounts infiltrated and data and documents extracted.

Hamburg's data protection authority said in a statement Friday that it had asked Twitter to remove a list of short links to other platforms where the data still exists, but had not received an answer from the social network. "According to initial information, there is no concern (for the security) of governmental networks", it added. The information was released through links published on Twitter in the form of an Advent calendar, beginning on December 1 with information about the German television comedian Jan Bohmermann, and ending with members of Chancellor Angela Merkel's center-right party and its Bavarian counterpart. It's unclear why the tweets didn't attract attention until now - the same account (now suspended) has been doxxing people, according to the report, since the summer of 2017 and had amassed more than 16,000 followers.

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer waves at members of the Christian Democratic Union after her election as the new leader, next to German Chancellor and outgoing CDU leader Angela Merkel.

The breach compromised the personal data of politicians from regional parliaments, the federal parliament, and the European Parliament, the German government stated earlier.

Tom Kellermann, the chief cybersecurity officer of Carbon Black, was among analysts saying the hack had all the hallmarks of Russian state-backed hackers.

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