Massive data leak targets German officials including Angela Merkel

File Pic

File Pic

Hundreds of internal political documents revealing personal data belonging to German politicians, including Chancellor Angela Merkel, have been leaked online since last month.

Germany's IT security agency on Saturday defended its response to the leaking of hundreds of politicians' private information, after lawmakers accused it of failing to inform them quickly enough.

The hack targeted all of Germany's political parties now represented in the federal parliament, except for the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD).

Public broadcaster RBB, which first reported on the issue Friday morning, said there appeared to be no method to how the breached data was shared via a Twitter account.

The Twitter account is followed by 17,000 people and is linked to an internet platform based in Hamburg, according to RBB reporter Michael Gotschenberg.

The interior ministry says there is no evidence that parliamentary or government systems have been compromised - and it is not clear whether the attack was the result of hacking - or someone with access leaking the data. The last post was on December 28.

"It was impossible to foresee at the start of December 2018 that there would be further cases", the BSI said.

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Among those affected were members of the Bundestag lower house of parliament and the European Parliament as well as regional and local assemblies, she said.

"Only by becoming aware of the release of the data sets via the Twitter account "G0d" on January 3, 2019, could the BSI in a further analysis on January 4, 2019 connect this case and four other cases that the BSI became aware of during 2018", it said.

Beyond politicians, the leak also exposed the private data of celebrities and journalists, including chats and voicemail messages from spouses and children of those targeted.

In many cases, he said, the information was limited or already available publicly.

The Russian government at the time denied that Russian hackers were involved.

The Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) has come under fire after it emerged that they knew about the leak since December, while the Federal Crime Office was only notified on Friday, news agency DPA and newspaper Bild report.

Demonstrators hold flags of Germany during a protest organized by the right-wing populist "Pro Chemnitz" movement, the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party and the anti-Islam Pegida movement, on September 1, 2018 in Chemnitz, eastern Germany.

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