Christmas is a time for giving. Apparently, hackers believe giving away confidential data of German politicians, celebrities and prominent public figures is keeping in line with the spirit of the season.
Hackers released the confidential information in a series of tweets published in December which only came to light in the New Year.
Leaked data include internal political communications, personal phone numbers and addresses, internal party documents, credit card details, private chat logs and even voicemails from relatives and children.
Lukasz Olejnik, an independent cybersecurity adviser and research associate at the Center for Technology and Global Affairs at Oxford University is of the opinion that there is reason for concern:
“There is no doubt that personal data leaks can be dangerous. It’s difficult to offer protection to the victims.
“So far I don’t see one particular target—it looks like it comes from many sources and platforms. It makes you wonder why the leaked data concerns a very broad political spectrum.”
It has been reported that all of the main German political parties except the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) had been targeted, which led to speculations that far-right supporters are behind the major hacking.
Michael Götschenberg, a reporter for ARD downplayed the accusations:
“You have to ask yourself where all this data comes from.”
He added that no politically sensitive data appeared to have been leaked but some “especially painful” personal chats relating to “family life” were published.
The motives behind the leaks have not been established. The hackers have not made any demands or statements of intent, making it difficult to determine their true agenda.
“There aren’t too many reasons for compiling a dataset like that. Selling would be an option, but since the data was dumped that’s unlikely,” says German security researcher Matthias Merkel. “And there are just some state elections coming up in Germany, nothing federal.”
German politicians were alarmed by the extent of the leaks and agreed that those behind them had intended to take a stab at destabilizing citizens’ trust in democracy.
“Whoever is behind this wants to damage faith in our democracy and its institutions,” the justice minister, Katarina Barley, said in a statement.
“[Those] responsible want to intimidate politicians,” added the SPD secretary general, Lars Klingbeil. “That will not succeed.”