Merkel Confirms Russian State-Sponsored Hackers Attacked Her Office in 2015

The malicious actors infiltrated the computer system of Germany's lower parliament and apparently stole several years of e-mail from the chancellor's office


Photo: Reuters

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on May 13 confirmed a report published last week that in 2015 Russian state-backed hackers believed to be from the GRU, Russia's military intelligence service, carried out a cyberattack against her office and stole a significant amount of e-mail.
During a question-and-answer session at the Bundestag, Germany's lower house of parliament, Merkel described the attack as "outrageous" and said that "of course we always reserve the right to take measures, including against Russia."
"I get the impression that they picked up relatively indiscriminately what they could get," the chancellor said. "I can say honestly that this pains me. On the one hand, I work every day for a better relationship with Russia, and when you see on the other hand that there is such hard evidence that Russian forces are involved in acting this way, this is an area of tension."
Germany's Der Spiegel magazine reported on May 8 that federal police and the federal cyber agency had partially reconstructed the attack and found that the hackers infiltrated Bundestag computers and targeted two e-mail boxes at Merkel's parliamentary office. The boxes were said to contain messages from the years 2012-2015. According to the report, the hackers apparently copied the mailboxes to another computer. 
The Bundestag discovered the intrusion of its systems in May 2015. 
In 2016, Germany's domestic intelligence service accused the Russian nation-state hacker group known as APT 28 or Fancy Bear of being responsible for the cyber incident.
Merkel said Russia is pursuing a strategy of “hybrid warfare, which includes warfare in connection with cyber, disorientation and factual distortion."
"I am very glad that the investigations have now led to the federal prosecutor putting a concrete person on the wanted list,” the chancellor said, without adding any other details. A German daily newspaper reported last week that federal prosecutors issued an arrest warrant against an alleged Russian military intelligence officer.

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