German Government Hacked, Russian Proxy FancyBear Accused

german government hacked by fancybear

Photo by Qualle

This week, the German government publicly revealed that the private servers of their defense and interior ministries had suffered a hack. German government officials did not provide details on the exact nature of the cyberattack, only that it was “isolated” and that it is currently under investigation.

The German Press Agency attributed the attack to FancyBear, a Russian hacking group long suspected of being a proxy to the Russian intelligence agency GRU. Russia has denied all affiliation with FancyBear. There is as-yet no official government confirmation connecting FancyBear to this attack.

If the allegations are true, this would not be the first time FancyBear allegedly attacked the German government; they were connected to an attack on their parliament in 2015. FancyBear is also allegedly behind the 2016 hack on the Democratic National Committee and more recent attacks on the International Olympic Committee.

According to Dieter Janacek, a German member of parliament:  “If it turns out to be true it is a form of warfare against Germany.” Emergency conferences of the German government’s intelligence and digital committees were called after the allegations of FancyBear’s involvement went public.  

Takeaway: In a recent study, 60% of CISOs around the country expressed worries that attacks by nation-state actors would result in a cyberwar. Mr. Janacek’s rhetoric certainly lends credence to those anxieties, and highlights how seriously enterprises need to take cybersecurity measures. Governments may not be fully prepared for the new kind of digital warfare, and therefore personal and business protection falls on the shoulders on individuals. Remember, everyone is a target.

Furthermore, there is evidence that the hackers infiltrated the system far earlier than the discovery of the breach. Dwell time can be a serious concern, and any good enterprise cybersecurity platform should sweep for unusual activity to reduce such devastating attack time.  

For more on nation-state attacks, check out our article on North Korea’s recent crimewave.

Ben Canner
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