Germany Threatens Russia With 'Consequences' For 2023 Cyber Attack

The German government has today accused Russia's military intelligence service (GRU) of being behind a cyber attack last year that targeted the Social Democratic party (SPD), the party of chancellor Olaf Scholz, claiming that it now has clear evidence that Russian state-sponsored hackers Fancy Bear made an “intolerable” attack in 2023.

In June 2023, the SPD announced that cyber criminals had targeted email accounts belonging to its executives earlier that year. The attack succeeded in taking the SPD websites offline, reportedly  in response to  the Germany government’s decision to supply armoured vehicles to Ukraine.

In January 2023, Germany was moving towards a decision to send modern tanks to Ukraine and the attack on the SPD was originally attributed to the Russian hacking group known as Killnet. As a NATO member, Germany has been amongst those providing military support to Ukraine and there have also been recent accusations of significant increased espionage.  

Annalena Baerbock, the German foreign minister said “Today we can say unambiguously that we can attribute this cyber attack to a group called APT28, which is steered by the military intelligence service of Russia... In other words, it was a state-sponsored Russian cyber attack on Germany, and this is absolutely intolerable and unacceptable and will have consequences.”

Baerbock is visiting Australia, New Zealand and Fiji, on a trip focusing on security policy. Her visit comes as China pushes for more influence in the Pacific region.  “The defence cooperation between Germany and Australia is close and we would like to deepen it further and together expand it, because we are in a situation where we face similar threats,” said Baerbock. 

Fancy Bear, also known as APT28, or Pawn Storm, has been accused of many cyberattacks around the world. The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre describes the group is “a highly skilled threat actor” that has “used tools including X-Tunnel, X-Agent and CompuTrace to penetrate target networks”.

Baerbock spoke after a meeting with Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong in Adelaide, South Australia.
Wong said Australia was "deeply troubled" by the cyber activity raised by Baerbock. "Australia stands in solidarity with Germany in calling out states that act contrary to the norms of responsible state behaviour in cyberspace," the Australian minister said. 

DW   |   Reuters   |   Euronews   |   Guardian   |    Moscow Times   |    Times of India   |

Image: Francesco Luca Labianca

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