German authorities sought help from the US National Security
Agency after discovering that hackers had released private data linked to
Chancellor Angela Merkel and hundreds of other German politicians, Bild
Responding to the biggest data dump of its kind in the
country, German investigators wanted the US intelligence agency to lean on
Twitter to shut down profiles with links to the data, Bild said, citing
unidentified security officials.
German authorities argued that US citizens were among
thousands of people exposed by the data dump.
As investigators seek to find out how data including email
addresses, mobile phone numbers and private chat protocols were exposed,
politicians took aim at Germany’s Federal Office for Information Security,
known as BSI, for failing to respond after receiving initial indications in
The BSI issued a statement on Saturday saying it was
approached by one lawmaker in Germany’s lower house, or Bundestag, at the beginning
of December and began investigating.
Only after the hacked information emerged on Thursday could
the BSI determine that the cases were linked, the agency said.
The data were leaked over the past weeks via a Twitter
account called “G0d” that identifies itself as based in Hamburg and
describes itself using the words “security researching,” “artist”
and “satire & irony.”
Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, who said he’d heard
nothing of the leaks before Friday morning, will hold talks with the heads of the
BSI and Germany’s Federal Crime office on Monday and make a report on the leaks
by midweek, Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported.
“The public will learn everything that I know,”
Seehofer told Sueddeutsche in an interview.
The country has seen a range of intrusions in recent years.
Hackers tried to infiltrate computers of think tanks associated with the
governing CDU and SPD parties in 2017. A year earlier, scammers set up a fake
server in Latvia to flood German lawmakers with phishing emails.
In 2015, attackers breached the network of the Bundestag
parliament and stole 16 gigabytes of data. Security firm Trend Micro has linked
the Bundestag attack and others to Pawn Storm, a group with ties to Russia –
whose government has repeatedly denied it’s hacking foreign powers.