German cyber defence agency defends handling of data breach

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Patrick Sensburg, a deputy from Merkel's Christian Democratic Union party, accused right wing extremists for the data leaks by telling the German newspaper Handelsblatt, "I assume this was a hacker attack by people close to the AfD [Alternative for Germany, a right-wing political party]".

As Twitter's European headquarters are located in Dublin, the leak falls under the remit of the Irish data protection authority, national broadcaster RTE reports.

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said an initial analysis suggests that the material was obtained from cloud services, email accounts or social networks.

He said it made ideal sense that none of the targets in this hacking campaign was from Germany's far right, and that it appeared aimed at "undermining the German political process and essentially stoking fires of the mob".

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Former and current elected officials are among the 994 people affected by the data breach, with the vast majority of them hit exclusively with the publication of their contact data, the sources said.

While early reports said that there was nothing politically sensitive amongst the data, Julian Röpcke of Bild tweeted that he had found "shocking" details related to nepotism, and that the data stretches back to 2009.

Authorities were investigating all possibilities, including espionage, according to one government source, who said it was unlikely that any single person could have compiled the massive amounts of data that had been released.

In a statement, the agency acknowledged it was approached by one lawmaker about suspicious activity on his private email and social media accounts in early December, but said it believed at the time his experience was a one-off case.

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"The perpetrators must now be identified quickly and their potential political motives made clear", said Barley, adding that the attack was serious. A year ago he won a court case brought by AfD leader Alice Weidel, who complained when he called her a "slut" on his TV show. So far, it's unclear who was behind the incident.

Immediate suspicion fell on right-wing groups in Germany, and Russian Federation - which has been accused of cyber attacks in Germany before - is also suspected. While there has been no official attribution for the attacks that led to the breach of the data leaked by "_0rbit", a link to the GRU operation remains possible.

In 2015, data was stolen from computers in the Bundestag.

Also known as "Turla" or "Uruburos", the group-which targets state departments and embassies worldwide-is believed to have links to Russian intelligence. "This is about attempting to destabilise Germany society", he told the BBC.

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