Germany Allowed Hackers Controlled Access in Cyber Breach to Track Them

Germany Allowed Hackers Controlled Access in Cyber Breach to Track Them

Saturday, 3 March, 2018 - 06:45
Illustrative: A hacker at work (supershabashnyi, iStock by Getty Images)
Berlin, London - Asharq Al-Awsat
German security officials allowed hackers “controlled” access to government networks in order to track possible culprits and their method, as outraged lawmakers complained about being kept in the dark.

Deputy Interior Minister Ole Schroeder told the RND newspaper group security officials were able to “isolate and bring under control” the attack.

Economy Minister Brigitte Zypries pushed back against initial media reports blaming the attack on Russian hacking group APT28, which experts say has clear links to Moscow, according to Reuters.

Zypries told reporters it would be “problematic” if Moscow were found to have launched the attack, as German media have reported. But she added: “At this moment there is no discussion of that. We cannot say anything at this point.”

The German government said security officials were investigating an isolated attack on its government computer networks, but it did not confirm media reports that the foreign and defense ministries were affected by the attack.

Schroeder said security measures were still being implemented, but declined to provide further details. Security officials said they learned of the breach some time ago. Media reports said it was detected in December but may have been under way for up to a year.

Government officials briefed the parliamentary committee that oversees intelligence agencies about the incident for the first time around midday on Thursday, as opposition lawmakers questioned why they had not been informed earlier.

Government officials were also due to meet with the lower-level parliamentary committee on digital issues.

Patrick Sensburg, a conservative and member of the oversight committee, told broadcaster ZDF the attack involved more complex malicious software and targeted more sensitive data than a 2015 breach of the German parliament that government officials later said was carried out by the Russian hacking group.

He said it remained unclear whether any data was stolen as a result of the breach, and if so, what sort of data.

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