The German government, through its Foreign Ministry, has filed a complaint against Russian authorities over an alleged attempt to steal confidential information belonging to its lawmakers as part of a potential disinformation campaign leading up to the upcoming election.
Andrea Sasse, a foreign ministry spokeswoman, said a hacking group identified as Ghostwriter deployed a “sophisticated combination of conventional cyberattacks with disinformation and public inference operations,” activities that hackers have deployed on German soil for an undetermined time.
Sasse adds that threat actors have been using phishing emails to access sensitive information related to German lawmakers at the local and federal level, seeking to take control of their email accounts and steal their identity: “These attacks could be the prelude to a disinformation campaign related to the legislative elections,” adds the representative.
Moreover, the German government’s message leaves no doubt about the authorship of these attacks: “We have reliable information to attribute this campaign to the Russian government’s threat actors, specifically its military intelligence service.” The German Foreign Ministry asked the Russian government to end this operation, as they believe that interventionism only encourages wear and tear in relations between the two countries.
This is not the only similar report published recently. In mid-July, the head of Germany’s national intelligence agency said his team detected activity related to a phishing campaign against some lawmakers, though he claimed these attempts proved unsuccessful.
This controversy between the two nations occurs in a complex context, since during the last months the media company RT, financed by the Russian government, has been dedicated to making strong criticisms against the German government, especially for issues such as migration and restrictions due to the pandemic.
Soon after, Chancellor Angela Merkel denied during a visit to Moscow that her government had exerted political pressure to block the station’s application for a regular broadcasting license, a move that some countries around the world have already taken.
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