Posted on January 5, 2019 at 12:24 PM
So far, 2018 was one of the years that have seen the most critical hacking attacks, with millions of people around the world being affected in various incidents. The latest of these massive hacks targeted German public figures, including celebrities, politicians, and even YouTubers.
According to reports, hundreds of public figures have had their documents and personal information stolen. It is believed that the attackers gained access to this information through victims’ smartphones, although it is still not confirmed whether the data which was published online and later shared on Twitter is a result of a hacking campaign, or a data leak, as some claim it is the case.
Angela Merkel affected by the leak
The incident occurred only days before the Christmas holiday, and it triggered an emergency meeting of the cyber defense agency. According to reports, one of the high-profile targets also includes the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel. However, a government spokeswoman stated that no sensitive data was stolen from the Chancellor or her office. Instead, the hack mostly contains details such as the victims’ names, home and email addresses, phone numbers, chat histories, photos, as well as photo IDs.
It is also interesting to note that this is not the first time that hacking attacks targeted politicians, and another high-profile breach occurred only a year before. This breach, as well as several others that came before, were believed to be made by Russian hacking groups, such as APT28, despite the Kremlin’s claims that they had nothing to do with it.
According to the German media outlets, the information regarding Angela Merkel only includes two email addresses and a fax number that she used. Meanwhile, FireEye’s security researchers stated that the attack is not surprising, even though it is alarming. It clearly indicates that the government needs to take additional steps in ensuring their systems’ security, but so does everyone else who was affected, as well as those who were not targeted in this particular incident.
Apart from Merkel, the leaked data also contained information of several of Germany’s left and centrist parties, including Greens, SPD, CDU, Left Party, CSU, and the FDP. Interestingly enough, Germany’s right-wing party was not affected by the attack.
The leaked data reveals corruption and political scandals
German politics experts who have analyzed the data have also confirmed that the significant portion of it appears to be outdated, with some of it being from 2012. This has led them to a conclusion that the leaked information was not collected in a single attack, but rather in an entire series of breaches that remained unnoticed until now. Experts have also speculated that the main purpose of the hacks and data leak is a psychological effect.
On the other hand, one journalist — BILD’s Julian Röpcke believes that the data contains evidence of corruption. According to him, the data was collected until October 2018 and released in December. After five hours of extensive research, he still only managed to comb through around 3% of it, with political scandals, corruption, and similar problems already being evident.
The leaked data, which was illegally collected until October 2018 and released December 2018, but just found now, is still publicly available.
I searched through it 5 hours last night, read maybe 3%of it and already found cases of corruption and bad political scandals.#BTleaks
— Julian Röpcke (@JulianRoepcke) January 4, 2019
Unsurprisingly, the incident caused quite a lot of panic among Germany’s politicians, as many are now fearing issues such as identity thefts, fraud, and alike. Twitter itself reacted in an attempt to contain the data by suspending the account.