A dump of hacked personal information about hundreds of German celebrities and politicians caught the eye of the country’s media late on Thursday, even though the leak began months ago and embraces items that are years old.
Twitter user “GOd” released a flood of personal details including home addresses and phone numbers of dozens of celebrities, members of every political party apart from the populist Alternative for Germany, and employees of public broadcaster ARD.
The information was released on a daily basis in December, mimicking an advent calendar. The event amounts to a "doxxing," internet parlance for publicizing personal details online.
“The leaked information from the hacker attacks on journalists, actors and politicians once again raises a lot of questions,” Jens Zimmermann, the digital voice of the center-left SPD party, told news agency DPA. His party called an internal meeting to discuss the leak. “The specter of an attempt to exert political influence is clear.”
Big but banal
It’s the second high-profile attack in as many years for Germany’s government. Last year, the country's security agencies admitted the Russian hacking conflagration APT28, also known as Fancy Bear, had gained entry to their networks. Even though the networks were some of Germany’s most secure, the agencies said the hackers had possibly been snooping around for up to a year.
Although the amount of material leaked last month is staggering, its very random nature doesn’t point to a broad, systemic attack like that of the APT28 on Germany’s security infrastructure. Instead, it reflects a handful of basic penetrations, possibly of smartphones – one successful politician or celebrity would likely have much of the leaked info on their phone.
What else has been leaked? Bike-sharing bills from a prominent German comedian. Scans of the government ID of several SPD parliamentarians. A chat log between a current federal minister and a parliamentarian, as well as pictures of the children of celebrities and a wealth of mobile phone numbers and personal emails. The information sounds juicy but is actually banal.
Handelsblatt Today did not attempt to verify any of the personal email addresses or phone numbers.
Andrew Bulkeley is an editor in Berlin for Handelsblatt Today. To contact the author: [email protected]