Germany has expressed concern over a spate of cyber-attacks perpetrated by Russian hackers on political parties, and believes Kremlin may use such data to influence upcoming elections in September.
Germany is strengthening its cyber-security protocols to fight cyber-attacks by Russian hackers, but wants a law to pulverise servers which are used to perpetrate such attacks.
Hans-Georg Maassen, president of the BfV agency which is entrusted with keeping the Constitution secure, has cited a spate of cyber-attacks perpetrated by Russian hackers to back up his claim. The most significant of these cyber-attacks was one conducted on the Bundestag in May 2015 which resulted in loss of large amounts of data. Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) has been at the receiving end of most of these cyber-attacks.
"We recognize this as a campaign being directed from Russia. Our counterpart is trying to generate information that can be used for disinformation or for influencing operations. Whether they do it or not is a political decision ... that I assume will be made in the Kremlin," he said.
Information taken via cyber-attacks is being used by Russians to create fake news and propaganda to influence opinions of voter ahead of the September elections, he added. One such example was the news about the rape of a 13-year Russian-German girl at the hands of migrants. News was also spread about the father of former European Parliament President Martin Schulz running a Nazi concentration camp during the world war.
Speaking at a cyber conference in Potsdam, Maassen also said that Russian hacking groups named APT28, ATP10 and ATP29 were using servers to perpetrate cyber-attacks on German political parties and that a new law was required for the country to attack and damage such servers to prevent them from conducting further cyber-attacks. "We believe it is necessary that we are in a position to be able to wipe out these servers if the providers and the owners of the servers are not ready to ensure that they are not used to carry out attacks," Maassen said.
Maassen's statement comes not long after it was alleged that Russian hackers were conducting a series of cyber-attacks on French political parties, particularly on French liberal candidate Emmanuel Macron's campaign. Researchers at Trend Micro, a Japanese cyber-security firm, a Russian hacker group named Pawn Storm attempted to influence public opinion, to influence elections, and sought contact with mainstream media with some success.”
Emmanuel Macron is not only leading the race for the next French President, but is also opposed to Russian politics, especially in Syria. Unlike Macron, Marine Le Pen, his strongest competitor, is sympathetic to Russians and her campaign has not faced sustained cyber-attacks so far.
"Emmanuel Macron is the only candidate in the French presidential campaign to be targeted. It's no coincidence if Emmanuel Macron, the last remaining progressive candidate in this election, is the priority target," said Macron's campaign team while revealing that at least five advanced cyber-attack operations were conducted on the campaign's websites.