Angela Merkel Slams ‘Outrageous’ Russian Hacking

Chancellor Angela Merkel has expressed the deep anger felt in Germany, after hackers linked to Russia’s GRU military intelligence agency conducted a cyberattack on the Bundestag in 2015.

The April/May 2015 cyberattack against Germany’s parliament (Bundestag) impacted 20,000 computers used by politicians, support staff and civil servants on the Parlakom network, including Chancellor Merkel’s own computer.

At the time it was the largest cyber-attack on the Bundestag, and the attack dragged on for at least a month.

GRU hackers

In June that year Germany’s defence minister, Ursula von der Leyen, warned of the growing danger posed by cyber-attacks after the German government conducted a review of its security measures.

At the same time Hans-Georg Maassen, the head of Germany’s domestic intelligence service, told a press conference that a foreign intelligence service of Russia was possibly behind the Bundestag hack.

The Russian government has denied hacking the German parliament.

But nearly five years later, German prosecutors earlier this week issued an arrest warrant for a Russian citizen Dmitry Badin, who is reportedly an officer in a hacking unit of that country’s GRU military intelligence.

Dmitry Badin is said to be a member of the GRU hacking unit 26165, which is better known among cyber security analysts as APT28.

APT28 goes by other names as well including ‘Fancy Bear’ or ‘Strontium’, and has carried many cyber-attacks over the years. In January 2017 for example APT28 attacked a number of political targets, including the US Senate and organisations linked to the Olympic Games.

Dmitry Badin is said to be the same Russian operative who in 2016 successfully derailed Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign by hacking into her emails, the Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported.

It was reported that 28 year old Badin is also wanted by US officials for the hack of Clinton and the Democratic Party’s email servers.

Outrageous hacking

And now according to the BBC, Chancellor Merkel confirmed that she was targeted by the GRU.

The German Chancellor was asked in parliament about a German magazine report that the GRU had obtained emails from her constituency office in a hacking attack in 2015.

“It pains me,” she reportedly said, describing the hacking as “outrageous.”

But the German chancellor added that she would continue to “strive for good relations with Russia.”

The German media have reported that the GRU hackers allegedly obtained two email inboxes from Chancellor Merkel’s office. The two inboxes reportedly contained emails from 2012 to 2015.

“Every day I try to build a better relationship with Russia and on the other hand there is such hard evidence that Russian forces are doing this,” Merkel was quoted as saying by AFP news agency on Wednesday.

“Unfortunately the conclusion I have reached is that this is not new,” she said, adding that “cyber-disorientation, the distortion of facts” were all part of “Russia’s strategy.”

Other Merkel hacks

Germany tends to take a much more serious line on privacy than other countries, and this is not the first time that the Chancellor Angela Merkel has been caught up in data leaks and spying.

In 2013 Merkel was said to have had her mobile phone hacked by US intelligence agents, according to Edward Snowden NSA whistleblowing leaks.

After the revelations, she demanded a full explanation from US authorities.

That report soured Germany’s relationship with the US at the time.

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Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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