An enormous security breach has led to personal information and documents belonging to hundreds of German politicians, being posted online, leaving the country’s security experts scrambling to find out how. A twenty year old man reportedly admitted to German police that he was responsible, apparently after taking advantage of weak passwords.
The breach affected a wide range of German politicians including representatives in the European, German and state parliaments as well as municipal officials, said Martina Fietz, a spokeswoman for Chancellor Angela Merkel.
“The German government takes this incident very seriously,” Fietz told journalists. “It appears, at first sight, that no sensitive information and data are included in what was published, including regarding the Chancellor.”
Public broadcaster RBB, which first reported the breach, said there appeared to be no particular motive behind the publication, which was broadcast to the world via Twitter. A user account with 17,000 followers, which had been active since mid-2017 was suspended after the discovery.
Preliminary accounts suggested that no classified or national security information released in the breach, which included phone and credit card numbers. The German news agency dpa reported that published information included a fax number and email address belonging to Chancellor Angela Merkel and several letters to and from her.
Politicians from all parties represented in the Bundestag, with the exception of the far-right Alternative for Germany, could be linked with information in the data dump, which had been shared in daily batches before Christmas. Social media stars and some other German public figures also had their information compromised.
German officials initially said it was not clear if the breach, which triggered an emergency meeting of Germany’s national cyber defense agency, had been the result of an external attack or an inside leak. The response of the German authorities came in for intense criticism, as it became known that they had been aware of individual cases back in December.