Russian Military Agents Accused Of Hacking German Chancellor’s Party Emails In Monthslong Cyberespionage Campaign

Germany has accused Russian military agents of masterminding a monthslong cyberespionage campaign targeting the top echelons of Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democratic Party and other sensitive government and industrial targets. NATO and fellow European countries joined Germany in warning that Russia’s actions would have consequences.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock attributed the hacking of emails of the Social Democrats, the leading party in the governing coalition, to a unit of Russia’s GRU military intelligence unit. Officials said the hackers exploited a vulnerability in Microsoft Outlook.

“This is absolutely intolerable and unacceptable and will have consequences,” Baerbock said at a news conference in the Australian city of Adelaide without specifying what the consequences might be.

The German Interior Ministry said in a statement that the hacking campaign began at least as early as March 2022, a month after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, with emails at Social Democrat party headquarters accessed beginning that December. German companies in the defense and aerospace sectors as well as targets related to the war were also a focus.

International efforts led by the FBI shut down in late January a botnet of compromised network devices used by the Russian hackers, known as APT28 or Fancy Bear, in the cyberespionage scheme according to the statement.

Relations between Russia and Germany were already tense with Germany providing military support to Ukraine in its ongoing war with Russia.

 

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