Berlin Protests To Moscow Over Preelection Cyberattacks
September 6, 2021
Germany says it has protested to Russia over attempts to steal data
from politicians in what it suspects could be an attempt to spread
“disinformation” ahead of German elections later this year.
"The federal government strongly urges the Russian government to
stop these unacceptable cyberactivities with immediate effect,"
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Andrea Sasse said on September 6,
adding that a ministry official had made the same demand to a
representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry last week.
Sasse didn’t comment on the extent of the cyberattacks or possible
damage, but said the German government "reserves the right to take
A group known as Ghostwriter, long suspected of ties to Russia’s GRU
military intelligence agency, has been “combining conventional
cyberattacks with disinformation and influence operations,” Sasse
told reporters, adding that such activities targeting Germany have
been observed “for some time,” she said.
Germans will elect a new parliament on September 26 that will
determine Chancellor Angela Merkel’s successor, with polls showing
the main parties fairly close together. Merkel is not seeking
another term after nearly 16 years in charge.
Using methods such as phishing e-mails, Sasse said there had been
attempts to get hold of personal log-in details of federal and state
lawmakers, with the aim of identity theft.
lawmakers from the governing coalition parties, the center-right CDU/CSU
and the center-left SPD, were said to have been recently affected.
German cybersecurity authorities have warned that foreign
intelligence services could use the hacks to publish personal
information about the victim or fabricated false news.
“These attacks could serve as preparations for influence operations
such as disinformation campaigns connected with the parliamentary
elections,” she said.
The government in Berlin “has reliable information on the basis of
which Ghostwriter activities can be attributed to cyberactors of the
Russian state and, specifically, Russia's GRU military intelligence
service,” Sasse said.
It “views this unacceptable activity as a danger to the security of
the Federal Republic of Germany and for the process of democratic
decision-making, and as a severe strain on bilateral relations.”