Russian Federation suspected after data hack targeting top politicians and celebrities rocks Germany

The German Reichstag building which houses the Bundestag parliament

Image The German Reichstag building which houses the Bundestag parliament

It targeted members of all the country's political parties - except the right-wing party AfD - were released on Twitter in the style of an advent calendar last month, along with data from celebrities and journalists.

The German government has launched an investigation into a massive data breach that saw personal information of hundreds of politicians and public figures published online.

Officials confirmed that "relatively recent data but also older data was concerned" in the incident and it is unclear "whether this was (the result of) one or more hacking attacks".

Over the past week, someone using the Twitter handle "_0rbit" and claiming to be a "security researcher" and "artist" published archive files appearing to containing personal data belonging to an array of German politicians.

The Federal Office for Information Security and the domestic intelligence service said they were investigating the leak.

Most reports spoke of mundane information such as email address books and private phone numbers, but Julian Röpcke of Bild newspaper tweeted that he had found "shocking" details. The country's internal computer networks have not been breached, according to Bild.

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She told reporters that "as regards the chancellery, it appears at first sight that no sensitive information and data are included in what was published, including regarding the chancellor".

Outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel is amongst the victims, though only her email address and a few letters have appeared. The data breach also affected well-known actor Til Schweiger, as well as Jan Boehmermann and Christian Ehring, two renowned German comedians.

Deputies from all parties represented in the Bundestag were targeted, as well as President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, an interior ministry spokesman said.

Justice Minister Katarina Barley, a member of the Social Democrats called the hack a "serious attack" and added, "The authors want to damage confidence in our democracy and our institutions". The spokesperson said the company recently updated its rules to prohibit the posting of "hacked material that contains private information, trade secrets or could put people in harm's way".

At the time, Moscow denied that Russian hackers were involved.

The Twitter account in question, which was still online early Friday with about 17,000 followers but had been suspended by around mid-day, had been active since mid-2017.

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