Germany protests Russia over pre-election cyberattacks


Berlin — Germany protested Russia against an attempt to steal data from lawmakers who appeared to be ready to disinformation before the upcoming German elections, Berlin’s Foreign Ministry said Monday.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Andrea Sasse said a hacker’s costume called Ghostwriter “combines traditional cyberattacks with disinformation to influence operations,” and German-targeted activities have been observed “for a while.” Said that it has been.

Prior to the September 26th German parliamentary elections, she said there had been attempts to obtain personal login information for federal and state legislators, including through phishing emails, for the purpose of stealing personal information. rice field.

“These attacks could help prepare for influential operations such as disinformation campaigns related to parliamentary elections,” she told reporters in Berlin.

“The German government has credible information that Ghostwriter’s activities can be attributed to Russian state cyber actors, especially Russia’s GRU military intelligence,” Sasse said. It “sees this unacceptable activity as a danger to the security and democratic decision-making process of the Federal Republic of Germany, and a serious burden on bilateral relations.”

She said Germany called on the Russian government to end such activities immediately and made the request directly to the Russian authorities. More recently, at a meeting of a working group on German and Russian security policy, German Deputy Foreign Minister Miguel Berger raised the issue with Russia’s deputy foreign minister.

“Of course, it’s completely unacceptable, and the German government reserves the right to take further steps,” Sas said, not commenting on the extent of the cyberattack and the potential for damage.

In mid-July, the head of the German national intelligence agency said that since February, his agency has seen activities focused on phishing attempts on the personal email accounts of federal and state legislators and their staff. Said. But he said most of those attempts were unsuccessful, and if they were successful, it seemed to cause little damage.

Germany’s concerns about Russia’s intervention extend to the activities of the state broadcaster RT, whose online-only German service has long emphasized divisive issues such as migration and pandemic restrictions on the coronavirus. ..

Chancellor Angela Merkel recently denied that during her visit to Moscow, the government exerted political pressure to thwart the station’s request for a regular broadcast license, which was rejected last month by neighboring Luxembourg authorities.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova accused Germany of trying to suppress the channel on Monday, claiming that it “is saying what the German media is not dare to say.”

In a vote on September 26, Germany will elect a new parliament to determine Merkel’s successor. She has been in charge for nearly 16 years and has not sought another term. The results are widespread and polls show that the major political parties are fairly close.

By Geir Moulson

Associated Press