Hack of German government network caused considerable damage

2018-03-01 21:11
(iStock)

(iStock)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Berlin — A cyberattack on German government computer systems thought to have been committed by a Russian-backed hacking group is ongoing and may have caused "considerable damage," members of parliament's intelligence oversight committee said on Thursday.

News of the hack broke on Wednesday with a report from German news agency dpa, and committee members expressed outrage that they first learned of the attack, discovered in December, from the media.

"While there may be good arguments about why some of the information was kept tight during the past weeks, it is completely inacceptable that yesterday afternoon we were informed by dpa," Greens lawmaker Konstantin von Notz told reporters.

Citing unidentified security sources, dpa reported that investigators believe a Russian group known as Snake carried out the hack that breached Germany's foreign and defence ministries and managed to steal data. It said the attack was uncovered in December and may have been going on for a year.

Earlier, dpa had reported that the group behind the attack was APT28, also known by other names including "Fancy Bear". APT28, which has been linked to Russian military intelligence, has previously been blamed for attacks on the German Parliament in 2015, as well as on NATO, governments in eastern Europe, the US election campaign, anti-doping agencies and other targets.

The Interior Ministry on Wednesday confirmed that networks belonging to the "federal administration" had been hacked into, saying "the attack was isolated and brought under control".

An Interior Ministry spokesperson wouldn't give further details, citing the ongoing analysis and security measures being taken.

Armin Schuster, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats and chairperson of the intelligence oversight committee, called it a "veritable attack" on the government network.

"It's an ongoing attack and therefore public discussions about details would simply be a warning to the attacker which we don't want to give," he said after an emergency meeting of the committee. "The spilling of secrets caused considerable damage, but the government, as of today, is trying to limit the damage."

Left Party lawmaker and intelligence oversight committee member Andre Hahn said that in his opinion the government is trying to "downplay" the significance of the attack.

"I fear that in the coming weeks quite a bit more will come to light," he said.

German media reported the breach was allowed to continue so investigators could gather information about the scope and the targets of the attack, and its initiators.

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.

"The selection of targets indicates state interests: Those affected are government agencies and targets in business and research," Germany's BfV spy agency said in its annual report for 2016.

The dpa news agency reported that the attackers entered government networks through a training academy for civil servants, then carefully made their way into other parts of the system.

Following dpa's report on Wednesday, officials confirmed that there were at least "indications" that Russian hackers were behind the attack.

"If it turns out to be true, it is a form of warfare against Germany," the head of the digital affairs committee, Dieter Janacek from the Greens party, told the Berliner Zeitung newspaper. Janacek characterised the attack as "severe" and called on the government to pass on the information it has to parliament.

Read more on:    germany  |  hacking

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News
Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.