In the spring of 2015, hackers broke into the German Bundestag’s IT system and stole large amounts of data, including many emails from parliamentarians in Germany’s National Assembly.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office is said to have been one of the targets of the attack.
Angela Merkel said in May this year that Germany has evidence that the Russian authorities were behind the computer attack in 2015.
– Clear similarities
Bjørn Svenungsen is a researcher and head of the cyber program at the Department of Defense Studies at the Norwegian Defense College.
– This time there is also a burglary in a national assembly. Those who have done this in both cases have an obvious interest in gaining access to the elected representatives’ information. This can be information that can be used for many years afterwards, says Svenungsen.
He believes the biggest similarity is that the Norwegian and German authorities so clearly point to Russia. Experts call it “naming and shaming”.
– It’s brand new. Norway has not made this so clear before, pointing to a state and accusing them of computer attacks.
– Why is it being made so clear now?
– It is to say clearly from. In recent years, we have seen an increase in this type of attack. Some Western countries seem to have come to a kind of understanding that it is better to go out and say, than not to do so. In the past, people have waited and been restrained, because it is very difficult technically to prove who is behind it. But I assume that Norway here has a strong series of indications that make Russia stand out, says Svenungsen.
Why is email so interesting for hackers?
Email is in many ways the key to our digital life. There you will often find conversations that go back several years in time and sensitive documents.
By accessing an e-mail account, one can also access other services online. You can state on a website that you have forgotten your password. Then there will be a link to the e-mail account, and you will have access to the website.
How do hackers access someone’s email?
It is quite common for people to use the same password in several places. Simple passwords a hacker can guess. Many also have passwords that stray from previous data breaches, something hackers diligently use in new attacks.
Are ordinary people’s emails vulnerable?
In recent years, it has become increasingly popular to attack companies and organizations with so-called ransomware viruses. Such viruses shut down all computers they access. Many of these attacks start with a seemingly innocent email sent to one or more employees of the company.
It is also common for criminals to attack private email accounts of people with an important role in a company. These hackers often have financial motives for the attack.
When private accounts are attacked, it is because the owner is somehow interesting to the attacker.
How can I protect myself from being hacked?
The most important thing you can do is get yourself a two-factor on the e-mail account you have at work and in private. With two-factor, you get a unique and temporary code via text message or in an app. This makes it much more difficult for an attacker – now they need to know both your password and the unique code to break in.
Experts also recommend that you get a so-called password manager. It is a program that stores all your passwords in one place. This way you can have different passwords on all web pages, at the same time as you just need to remember one password.
Read more about the case here:
German security authorities said that the Russian military intelligence organization GRU was behind the cyber attack. The computer attack is said to have been carried out by the well-known hacker group APT28, better known as Fancy Bear. This group must be a unit subject to GRU.
According to several media, the German authorities have for the first time managed to identify a suspect who is to be involved in the attack, a 29-year-old hacker who is also to be an officer in GRU.
The GRU is also said to have been behind the attack on the data breach in the Democrats’ data servers in the USA prior to the presidential election in the USA in 2016. The USA has also been looking for the same GRU officer.
In May this year, the German prosecution issued an arrest warrant for the Russian agent.
Prosecution very demanding
Svenungsen believes it will be very demanding for Norway to issue a possible indictment against a specific person.
– It took many years from this happened until Germany brought charges against a person, as the person responsible for the burglary. It is very rare for individuals to be prosecuted in this way. The United States has done this to Chinese and Russian citizens, but it is very rare in Europe, says Svenungsen.
Russia has rejected the German accusations as baseless. Russia has done the same against the Norwegian accusations.
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