Germany opens investigation into suspected Russian cyberattacks

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Interior ministry concerned over mounting cyberattacks ahead of September 26 general elections.

Germany’s federal prosecutor’s office launched a probe into cyberattacks on the country’s parliament, only days after Berlin openly accused Moscow of being behind the action, local media reported on Thursday.

Federal Prosecutor General Peter Frank is investigating a large-scale cyberattack campaign allegedly by Russia before the Sept. 26 federal election, an unnamed spokesman for the federal prosecutor’s office told Der Spiegel news magazine.

The German Foreign Ministry went public on Monday with a statement, claiming Russia’s military secret service (GRU) masterminded the cyberattack.

“The German government urges the Russian government to stop these illegal cyber activities with immediate effect,” said Deputy Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Andrea Sasse.

The government view this “unacceptable approach as a threat to the security of the Federal Republic of Germany and to the democratic decision-making process,” she added.

Sasse alleged Berlin had “reliable information” that the Russian military intelligence service was behind the attack which reportedly targeted dozens of German policymakers.

She also said that Russian hackers are believed to be part of a disinformation campaign, dubbed Ghostwriter, which is tied to the Russian military intelligence.

The cyberattack targeted seven members of Germany’s parliament, all of whom belonged to the co-ruling Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Social Democratic Party (SPD), in addition to 31 other state lawmakers, according to media reports.

Germany’s Interior Ministry warned in June that the September elections face a risk of being targeted by Russian cyberattacks.

There have been mounting cyberattacks in the past few weeks, according to a ministry assessment seen by German broadcaster ARD, among them so-called brute force attacks on e-mail accounts in order to access sensitive data.

In the report, the Interior Ministry said it regards the assault against political parties and foundations as a “serious threat” in view of the upcoming federal elections.

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