Politicians and Celebrities Targeted in Germany’s Biggest Data Hack

Politicians and Celebrities Targeted in Germany’s Biggest Data Hack

The private details of almost 1,000 German politicians, celebrities, journalists and other prominent people were leaked last month via a Twitter account in Germany’s biggest data breach yet.

January 2019 | Omada

Politicians and Celebrities Targeted in Germany’s Biggest Data Hack

The private details of almost 1,000 German politicians, celebrities, journalists and other prominent people were leaked last month via a Twitter account in Germany’s biggest data breach yet.

Between December 1 and 24, in an advent-style campaign, British tech news website The Register reports that the personal information – including email addresses, private chats, credit card details and photos of family – were released.

It was initially thought to have been linked to previous breaches carried out by a Russian hacking group, but the Guardian now reports a 20 year old man has taken responsibility for the attack, saying he was ‘annoyed’ by statements made by the people he targeted.

The attack is the latest in a number of high-tech assaults that have affected notable individuals and political institutions in Germany.

In 2018, a powerful cyberattack breached both the German Foreign and Defense Ministries’ computer networks, and it is believed to have taken almost a year to be detected.

In the latest instance, what is most alarming is that the hacked information was readily available for more than a month before federal cybersecurity services linked it to an earlier report of suspicious behavior on private accounts of a member of parliament.

Omada Lead Solution Consultant Martin Kuhlmann says the data breaches are not surprising and merely represent the growing need for government and all organizations to take cybersecurity much more seriously.

“Organizations must have a process-driven solution for monitoring access if they are to maintain control over it,” he says.

“It’s frightening that an amateur simply cracks weak passwords and leaks personal information of politicians and celebrities, deranging German political life for a couple of days. Hopefully this incident will make more individuals adopt better habits regarding authentication.”

But what does this incident mean for companies and authorities?

Clearly, they should be applying stronger authentication mechanisms and educating their IT users in proper password creation.

But such moves need to be combined with further access governance measures like the detection of unauthorized access, the ability to deactivate accounts immediately, and the restriction of access to a necessary minimum, to keep damage as low as possible if accounts are hacked.

Like the ‘annoyed’ German hacker, disappointed or disgruntled employees may try to attack a company from the inside and be successful if personal and sensitive data are not protected through effective access management procedures.

Read more about Why Reconciliation Is Essential in Access Governance and how you can use IAM to prevent insider threats.

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