German Government Hit By Russian Hackers

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she has ‘hard evidence’ that she was targeted by hackers who are believed to be Russian military intelligence (GRU). She was recently questioned in parliament about a German news article in Spiegel magazine saying that the GRU had obtained emails from her constituency office in a hacking attack in 2015.

Merkel was responding to a question from an MP with the opposition Green party, about her views on the outcome of the investigation. 

Merkel said she was pleased that investigators had found out who was responsible for the attack and were seeking to make arrests. The 2015 hacking story said there had been a theft of data from computers in the German parliament. In 2018, the government's IT network also came under attack, amid reports that Russian hackers were also to blame.The Russian government has denied hacking the German parliament's data.

What is the GRU  Hacking?
According to Spiegel, German experts managed to partially reconstruct the hacking attack and found that two email inboxes from Merkel's office had been breached. They reportedly contained emails from 2012 to 2015.

In 2016, Germany's domestic intelligence agency publicly accused a hacker group thought to work for the Russian state of being behind the cyber-attack. 

The group, known as Fancy Bear or APT28, is also thought to have been behind cyber-attacks on the 2016 US election.
"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," Angela Merkel told reportes.

Why do Russian Hackers Hit Germany?
Germany's domestic intelligence agency believes that Russian attacks on German state organisations and institutions were carried out to gather intelligence data. Relations between Russia and the EU's economic powerhouse, and Merkel and President Vladimir Putin, are complex.

On the one hand, Merkel was swift to condemn Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine and has defended continuing EU sanctions. But she has also championed, despite opposition at home and further afield, the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which will double the amount of Russian gas coming into Europe via Germany.

Thousands of German companies still do business with Russia and some lobby against sanctions, which they argue cripple trade. 

Merkel said that Germany will appropriately engage measures against Russian diplomats similar to what it did following the murder in a Berlin park last summer park of a former Chechen insurgent, which Germany believes was a contract killing carried out on behalf of the Russian state.

Euronews:     VOA News:      Guardian:        BBC

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