News, Security

Russian spies may have hacked Germany’s government systems

Germany are reportedly investigating a security breach into the country’s government computer network.

According to Reuters, Germany said on Wednesday hackers had breached its government computer network with an isolated attack that had been brought under control and which security officials were investigating.

A spokesman for the German Interior Ministry said the affected government agencies had taken appropriate measures to investigate the incident and protect data.

“The attack was isolated and brought under control within the federal administration,” which oversees government computer networks, he said in a statement, adding that the authorities were addressing the incident “with high priority and significant resources”.

The spokesman said he could give no further details immediately due to security and analysis measures that were still under way.

Reports have speculated that the attack was carried out by the Russian hacker group APT28, also known as Fancy Bear, which had already attacked the German parliament in 2015.

The group managed to steal data from the Foreign and Defence Ministries in the latest attack, said the Reuters report.

The ministry did not say when the attack took place. German media reported it happened in December.

German security sources said authorities had been aware of the incident for some time, but the Defence Ministry and the German military were not affected.

News of the attack on German government computers comes after repeated warnings by German intelligence officials about possible meddling by Russia in last year’s federal election.

The head of the German domestic intelligence agency last year said such attacks had not occurred, but the risk of interference remained until a new government is in place.

Western governments and security experts have also linked the hacking group known as APT28 or Fancy Bear to a Russian spy agency, and have blamed it for operations including an attack on the Democratic National Committee ahead of the 2016 US elections and the German lower house of parliament in 2015.

German officials have blamed APT28 for the May 2015 hack of the German lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, and other cyber-attacks aimed at political groups, Merkel and other individuals, or institutions.

Moscow has previously denied in any way having been involved in cyber-attacks on the German political establishment.

Top German intelligence officials have urged lawmakers to give them greater legal authority to “hack back” in the event of cyber-attacks from foreign powers.

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