German (20) confesses to massive data hack spurred by 'annoyance'

Blanche Robertson
January 9, 2019

In most cases, the information published online was limited to basic contact details, but in up to 60 cases more extensive personal data was made public. The suspect was provisionally arrested but released due to a lack of evidence.

Investigators said the German citizen they arrested had co-operated and led them to evidence they may not have found without help.

Through its preliminary investigation, the BKA learned that the suspect reportedly used a hijacked Twitter account and accessed his internet connections through a VPN service for anonymization.

Who was targeted in the breach?

The information revealed in the leak, which in a few cases included chats and voicemail messages from spouses and children of those targeted, derived from both social media and private "cloud" data.

The main parliamentary groups including the ruling centre-right and centre-left parties, as well as The Greens, left-wing Die Linke and FDP.

Centre-left SPD MP Florian Post said he felt "quite shocked" by the leak of account statements and other details online, but he added that at least one file that had been posted was fake.

Authorities have said nearly 1,000 people were affected by the data breach.

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German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer will hold press conference later on Tuesday together with the heads of the BKA and the government's office for IT security (BSI).

How did the data breach happen?

Der Spiegel reported on its website that the 20-year-old had confessed.

"We are still investigating his motives and whether they may have been criminal or politically motivated", he told reporters, adding that police were also working to confirm whether the suspect did indeed work alone.

There was never any information leaked from the Bundestag breach in which hackers roamed the network for more than a week before they were detected. He said he would bring a new federal security law to the cabinet in the first half of the year, and add several hundred new posts to the IT Security agency.

BKA chief Holger Munch told a news conference that the suspect "gained access to various accounts, obviously using hacking methods" - but that access to those accounts had now been taken away. German officials did not comment on the hacker's political views.

The German Government has since bolstered its technology protections, setting up a cyber-defence unit in 2017 staffed by thousands of soldiers and IT experts to protect military networks and key infrastructure, such as power plants and hospitals.

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