Hackers dump personal data of hundreds of German politicians

The data was uploaded online and later promoted via Twitter, starting a few days before the Christmas holiday.

Public broadcaster RBB, which was the first with daily Bild to report the leak, said, "At first glance it does not seem that politically sensitive material was included".

"You have to ask yourself where all this data comes from", ARD reporter Michael Götschenberg, who had seen part of the leaked cache, told rbb info radio on Friday.

According to Katarina Barley, justice minister, the release is being treated as a "serious attack".

This is not the first time that the German government has been hacked, with the last major hack being laid at the hands of Russian state-sponsored hackers.

Cyber defence body BSI met early on Friday to coordinate the response of federal government agencies including the domestic and foreign intelligence agencies, a spokesman said.

Fietz told a government press conference that an initial analysis suggested the leak affected politicians of all levels including the European parliament, German parliament and regional parliaments. MPs and government officials had their contacts, home addresses, chat entries and personal messages hijacked and uploaded to a Twitter account in several packages.

Some of the stolen information was years old, and it seems the data dump does not include any political bombshells.

A spokeswoman for Chancellor Angela Merkel, Martina Fietz, said the chancellery was informed of the matter on Thursday evening.

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SPD MP Florian Post has said that at least one file attributed to him is fake.

'According to our current information, government networks have not been targeted, ' BSI tweeted.

The leaked data was released through links published on Twitter in the form of an advent calendar, beginning with information about German television comedian Jan Böhmermann on December 1 and ending with members of Chancellor Angela Merkel's center-right party and its Bavarian counterpart.

Bild newspaper added the information published dates back to before October 2018 - but isn't clear when the hack began.

She said: "We are calling upon citizens that the data that has been published should be viewed with caution and to not take everything par for par".

The account, which calls itself "G0d", was opened in mid-2017 and purportedly has more than 18,000 followers.

The leak has been now branded as an act of "hacktivism", but foreign nation-state cyber intelligence groups have been known to mask influence operations as hacktivisim in the past.

The main account belonged to someone who described themselves as being involved in both security research and satire, Deutsche Welle said.

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