Angela Merkel and Other German Politicians Targeted in Mass Data Attack
File image of German Chancellor Angela Merkel (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel and hundreds of other local political leaders have been targeted in a mass data attack with their personal details stolen and published publicly.

Politicians from almost every political party were targeted with their contacts, private chats and financial details published on Twitter. A Twitter account published a link to Angela Merkel's data showing two email addresses used by the chancellor, a fax number and emails apparently addressed to her and by her.

A spokesperson of the German government said no sensitive data from Merkel's office had been published. However, MPs in both the German government as well as Euro MPs and MPs from state parliaments were targeted. The main parliamentary political parties including the ruling centre-right and centre-left parties, as well as The Green party, Die Linke and FDP were hit. Only right-wing AfD appears to have escaped.

The data was published on the now-suspended Twitter account, identified as @_0rbit, with a following of more than 17,000 people. Investigators pinpointed the operation of the account from Hamburg.

Data was posted on the Twitter account from December 1 to December 28 2018, but Germany officials became aware of the theft only on January 3.

The true extent of the quantity of data in the leak is not yet known although Justice Minister Katarina Barley said it was a "serious attack". "The people behind this want to damage confidence in our democracy and institutions," she said.

The German public broadcaster RBB first reported the data leak. "At first glance, it does not seem that politically sensitive material was included," RBB said. "However the damage is likely to be massive given the volume of personal data published."

The Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) and Germany’s domestic intelligence service said they were investigating the extent of the data attack. "According to our current information, government networks have not been targeted," BSI tweeted.