On Thursday Germany reported a breach in cyber security of the highest order, wherein massive personal data and documents of hundreds of German politicians and public figures including Chancellor Angela Merkel got published online. The data got published through a twitter account named account @_0rbit, with 18,000 followers and has been suspended now. Oddly, the documents got published daily in December but got detected on Thursday night as the spread of the leaks gathered pace this week.
The information included comprised home addresses, phone numbers, letters, invoices credit cards, personal chats and copies of identity documents. It is considered to be one of the largest leaks in the country’s history.
Martina Fietz, a government spokeswoman said that the German government has started investigating the issue and has claimed to take this incident very seriously. It is believed that the leak affected politicians of all levels including those in the European, national and regional parliaments. Though a lot of information is real, she added that there is a high probability that the hackers added fake documents among the cache.
With regard to the preliminary investigation, Fietz commented, “no sensitive information or data” from Merkel’s office had been leaked.
“Whoever is behind this wants to damage faith in our democracy and its institutions,” Justice Minister Katarina Barley said in a statement. Dietmar Bartsch, a member of the democratic socialist party and Bundestag, passed a similar statement calling it an attack over the country’s democracy.
The daily Bild and public broadcaster RBB were the first to report the leak. RBB said that at first, it did not include what is believed to be politically sensitive material, however, it is likely to cause huge damage given the volume of personal data published. According to the Bild, it was unclear when the data theft began but it continued until the end of October. Bild mentioned that the leaks contained data from 405 CDU-CSU politicians, 294 SPD politicians, 105 Greens, at least 82 Left party members and 28 FDP MPs.
There is high suspicion among parliamentarians over far-right politicians as none of them has been touched by the leaked wave.
Some believe that there could a Russian engagement, as similar leaks were made by Russian hackers in the past. In 2015, the German Federal Office for Information Security shut down the parliamentary intranet reporting the presence of spyware on the system to hack the information. Last year again a cyber-attack had targeted the country.