Germany’s Merkel says she is ‘pained’ by Russian hacking

Germany's Merkel says she is 'pained' by Russian hacking
Mrs Merkel was taking questions in the Bundestag. Source: Getty Images
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Daily US Times: German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that she was targeted by hackers thought to be Russian military intelligence (GRU) and the hacking attempts caused her pain.

A German magazine published a report that the GRU had obtained emails from Merkel’s constituency office in a hacking attack in 2015. She was asked about it and confirmed the hacking attempt.

She said: “It pains me,” describing the hacking as “outrageous”, but also added that she would continue to “strive for good relations with Russia”.

Germany’s Spiegel magazine reported the 2015 hacking which shows a theft of data from computers in the German parliament.

The government’s IT network also came under attack in 2018, amid reports that Russian hackers were also to blame. The Russian government has denied hacking the German parliament’s data.

What is the GRU alleged to have obtained?

According the magazine report, German experts managed to partially reconstruct the hacking attack and found that two email inboxes from Mrs Merkel’s office had been breached, though the report did not cite its sources. They reportedly contained emails from 2012 to 2015.

Germany’s domestic intelligence agency publicly accused a hacker group in 2017, which is thought to work for the Russian state of being behind the cyber attack.

The group, known as Fancy Bear or APT28. This group is also thought to have been behind cyber attacks on the 2016 US election.

Merkel said: “Every day I try to build a better relationship with Russia and on the other hand there is such hard evidence that Russian forces are doing this.”

AFP news agency reported on Wednesday quoting Merkel as saying: “Unfortunately the conclusion I have reached is that this is not new,” adding that “cyber-disorientation, the distortion of facts” were all part of “Russia’s strategy”.

Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova denied Russia had hacked the German parliament (Bundestag) two years ago with a cutting joke: “We broke into the Bundestag only once, in 1945, while liberating Berlin from the Nazi scourge. At that time, it was called the Reichstag.”

Why would Russian hackers target Germany?

Germany’s domestic intelligence agency believes that Russian attacks on German state institutions and organisations were carried out to gather intelligence data.

Relations between Russian and Germany, and Vladimir Putin and Mrs Merkel, are complex.

Mrs Merkel, on the one hand, was swift to condemn Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, and has defended continuing EU sanctions.

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