Germany Accuses Russian Military Intelligence Of Hacking Governing Social Democratic Party Emails

Germany accused Russian military agents on Friday of hacking the top echelons of Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democratic Party and other sensitive government and industrial targets. NATO and fellow European countries joined Germany in warning that Russia’s cyberespionage would have consequences.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said Russian military cyber operators were behind the hacking of emails of the Social Democrats, the leading party in the governing coalition. Officials said they did so by exploiting Microsoft Outlook.

“Russian state hackers attacked Germany in cyberspace,” Baerbock said at a news conference in the Australian city of Adelaide. She attributed the hack to a unit of Russia’s GRU military intelligence unit.

The German Interior Ministry said in a statement that the hacking campaign began at least as early as March 2022 — a month after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine — with emails at Social Democrat party headquarters accessed beginning that December. It said German companies including in the defense and aerospace sectors as well as targets related to the war were also a focus.

The statement said international efforts led by the FBI shut down in late January a botnet of compromised network devices used by the Russian hackers — known as APT28 or Fancy Bear — in the cyberespionage scheme.

Relations between Russia and Germany were already tense with Germany providing military support to Ukraine in its ongoing war with Russia. Baerbock said the hacking was “absolutely intolerable and unacceptable and will have consequences” without specifying what they might be.