Berlin, Jan 4 (IANS) Hundreds of German politicians, including Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, have had their personal details hacked and published online, authorities said on Friday.
Hackers managed to get hold of telephone numbers, private addresses, party memos, personal banking information and family information belonging to politicians affecting every political party in the country apart from the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), the BBC reported.
Data from celebrities and journalists were also leaked.
German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) said it was investigating the hack and said government networks were not affected. “According to initial information, there is no concern (for the security) of governmental networks,” it added.
A government spokeswoman said no sensitive data from the Chancellor’s office had been published. But the apparent hack did not only affect members of Germany’s Bundestag, the country’s lower Parliament, but also the President, several public figures and NGO leaders.
Notable cases included sports journalist Hajo Seppelt, who broke the Russian doping scandal, and comedian Jan Bohmermann, who in 2016 sparked controversy with a satirical swipe at Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The German media said that the private details were published over the Christmas period but only garnered public attention on Thursday.
German cyber-security analyst Sven Herpig said Russia was a suspect, due to the method used and also because the country was facing four state elections in 2019 as well as elections to the European Parliament, the BBC said.
UK-based expert Graham Cluley said the breadth of the latest hack suggested it was a co-ordinated effort involving a determined group over many months.
“This hack clearly isn’t about extortion or financially motivated. This is about attempting to destabilise Germany society,” he said.