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Germany seeks US assistance after hacking breach – report

Jan 06 2019 18:00
Patrick Donahue, Bloomberg

German authorities sought help from the US National Security Agency after discovering that hackers had released private data linked to Chancellor Angela Merkel and hundreds of other German politicians, Bild newspaper reported.

Responding to the biggest data dump of its kind in the country, German investigators wanted the US intelligence agency to lean on Twitter to shut down profiles with links to the data, Bild said, citing unidentified security officials.

German authorities argued that US citizens were among thousands of people exposed by the data dump.

As investigators seek to find out how data including email addresses, mobile phone numbers and private chat protocols were exposed, politicians took aim at Germany’s Federal Office for Information Security, known as BSI, for failing to respond after receiving initial indications in December.

Began investigating

The BSI issued a statement on Saturday saying it was approached by one lawmaker in Germany’s lower house, or Bundestag, at the beginning of December and began investigating.

Only after the hacked information emerged on Thursday could the BSI determine that the cases were linked, the agency said.

The data were leaked over the past weeks via a Twitter account called "G0d" that identifies itself as based in Hamburg and describes itself using the words "security researching," "artist" and "satire & irony."

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, who said he’d heard nothing of the leaks before Friday morning, will hold talks with the heads of the BSI and Germany’s Federal Crime office on Monday and make a report on the leaks by midweek, Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported.

"The public will learn everything that I know," Seehofer told Sueddeutsche in an interview.

The country has seen a range of intrusions in recent years. Hackers tried to infiltrate computers of think tanks associated with the governing CDU and SPD parties in 2017. A year earlier, scammers set up a fake server in Latvia to flood German lawmakers with phishing emails.

In 2015, attackers breached the network of the Bundestag parliament and stole 16 gigabytes of data. Security firm Trend Micro has linked the Bundestag attack and others to Pawn Storm, a group with ties to Russia – whose government has repeatedly denied it’s hacking foreign powers.

angela merkel  |  germany  |  us  |  privacy  |  hacking  |  data breach  |  data
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