Cyberattack on German government
The latest hack of German government networks involved complex malicious software and targeted more sensitive data than a 2015 breach of the German parliament, a leading member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives said on Thursday.
The head of a parliamentary oversight panel said the attack was continuing, and security officials were trying to maintain control.
“It is a veritable cyber attack on parts of the government network,” conservative lawmaker Armin Schuster told reporters. “It is a continuing process.”
“The loss of sensitive information amounts to significant damage on its own,” Schuster said. “But we can say that the German government is trying, as far as we know today, to keep the process under control.”
The defence and interior ministries’ private networks are being affected.
The officials did not confirm media reports that a Russian hacking group known as Fancy Bear was responsible.
The group, which is also known as APT28 and is believed to be linked to Russia’s GRU military intelligence agency, is reported to have targeted the federal government’s internal communications network with malware.
“It is an ongoing affair, an ongoing attack,” Mr Schuster said on Thursday.
“So a detailed public discussion would simply be a warning to the attacker which we do not want to make,” he added.
Fancy Bear was blamed for a similar attack on the lower house of the German parliament in 2015, and is thought to have targeted the Christian Democratic Union party of Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The group is also believed to be behind breaches in the US presidential elections in 2016.
According to Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, Snake — the group suspected to be behind the attack — first surfaced in 2005 and uses “a very complex and high quality software” that also goes by the name Uroburos or Turla.
Merkel, preparing the German population to deal with online attacks, has said that people should “not allow themselves to be irritated” by such rogue operations.
“You just have to know that there’s such a thing and learn to live with it,” she said.