Hundreds of German politicians hacked, excluding those from far-right AfD

The National Cyber Defense Center did, however, convene an emergency meeting Friday along with the Federal Office of Criminal Investigation and the Protection of the Constitution.

The German government is taking the attack "very seriously", spokeswoman Martina Fietz said at a briefing with reporters on Friday. Over the last week of December, files with personal data of hundreds of German politicians, bloggers, and celebrities was posted via links from the account.

The attacks took place throughout December previous year, but did not become public knowledge until yesterday.

UK-based expert Graham Cluley said the breadth of the latest hack suggested it was a co-ordinated effort involving a determined group over many months.

Germany's BSI cyber defence agency defended its role in responding to a far-reaching data breach today, saying it could not have connected individual cases it was aware of a year ago until the entire data release became public.

A defence ministry spokesman said the armed forces were not affected, and broadcaster ARD - affiliated to rbb - said its journalists had as yet detected no incriminating content.

The interior ministry spokesman said it was unclear who was behind the data dump, which derived both from social media and private "cloud" data.

Picture taken on January 4, 2019 shows the website of the German Bundestag (lower house of parliament) with a picture of German Chancellor Angela Merkel displayed on the screen of a laptop.

German security analyst Sven Herpig said the method used and the timing - so close to elections at the European Parliament and four German state elections - pointed to Russian influence. Security experts have held the same group responsible for an attack ahead of the 2016 US presidential election.

Bild newspaper reported that German authorities had asked the United States spy agency NSA for help in investigating the incident.

The Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) and the domestic intelligence service said they were investigating the leak and that parliamentary group leaders were informed on Thursday.

Germany's IT security agency on Saturday defended its response to the leaking of hundreds of politicians' private information, after lawmakers accused it of failing to inform them quickly enough. "That will not succeed", said Lars Klingbeil, secretary general of the centre-left Social Democrats, Merkel's coalition partner.

  • Rogelio Becker