Germany accuses Russia of cyber attack on Social Democratic Party

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Germany's Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock

Germany has accused Russia of perpetrating an “intolerable” cyberattack on members of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), a leading member of the country’s governing coalition. Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock announced on Friday that a German federal government investigation had concluded that the cyberattack, which took place in 2023, was carried out by a group of hackers known as APT28, which is allegedly linked to Russia’s military intelligence service.

Baerbock’s statement came during a news conference in Adelaide, Australia, where she condemned the cyberattack as “absolutely intolerable and unacceptable” and promised that there would be consequences. APT28, also known as Fancy Bear, has been implicated in numerous cyberattacks around the world.

The cyberattack on the SPD, which targeted German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s party, was made public last year and was attributed to a previously unknown vulnerability in Microsoft Outlook. Germany’s Federal Ministry of the Interior revealed that the attack also targeted German companies in sectors such as defence, aerospace, and information technology, as well as entities related to Russia’s conflict in Ukraine.

The hacking campaign began in March 2022, and emails at the SPD headquarters were accessed as far back as December of the previous year. German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser stated that the campaign was orchestrated by Russia’s military intelligence service, GRU. The German government has summoned the acting charge d’affaires of the Russian embassy in Berlin to address the cyberattack.

In response to the accusations, Russia denied any involvement in the cyberattack, dismissing them as “unsubstantiated and groundless”. The Czech Republic also revealed that its institutions had been targeted by APT28 using a vulnerability in Microsoft Outlook from 2023.

The European Union and NATO condemned the cyber campaign, with NATO affirming its commitment to combat cyber threats and support its member countries.

The United States and the United Kingdom also condemned the attack, pledging to hold the perpetrators accountable.

This incident is not the first time that Russian hackers have been accused of targeting Germany, as previous incidents have also been attributed to them.

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