After spending almost a week scratching their heads, German investigators have finally found out that it was not a ‘bunch’ of hackers, or some sophisticated ‘foreign’ agency who had done the cyber data breach. The hacker is a 19-year-old boy, who leaked private details of 1,000 public figures in December. The reason? He was annoyed with certain statements made by some of these personalities, including politicians, journalists and leading celebrities.
Police have apprehended the teenager for creating havoc by making Germany’s biggest data breach, in which the private details of 1,000 public figures were leaked and made public through Twitter.
Investigators said that the teenager, a student, lived with his parents and confessed on Monday to acting alone without any political affiliations. The hacker is charged of spying, data leaks and unwarranted publication of personal data.
Starting December 1, the hacker posted a new link each day, leading to a cache of documents that had phone numbers, contact information, IDs, passports, rental contracts, credit cards, and bank details, including that of Chancellor Angela Merkel and German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
A day after the breach was discovered, deputy government spokesperson Martina Fietz stated on Friday, “The German government takes this incident very seriously.” Even Merkel’s office was not aware of the breach before Thursday night. The news sent the German cyber security department into a tizzy because the Twitter account, in which the links were posted, had more than 18,000 followers before it was suspended.
The discovery of the hacker can be more of an embarrassment for the German government than an achievement. A spokesman for fighting internet crime described the teenager as someone who has “extensive knowledge of computers”, but no formal qualifications. He negated that the hacker had any political vendetta or affiliations with any right wing party. It is interesting to note that the hacker didn’t target the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD).
German interior minister Horst Seehofer is now bound to answer questions related to national cyber security. His meek justification that such threats will become more common if internet users kept simple passwords, is not helping matters. Critics of Seehofer will mount pressure and seek answers as to why the ministry was not prepared to confront such a mega security breach that involved the leaders of the country including, the Chancellor and the President.
In a bid to assure the people that the government is taking steps to up cyber security, Seehofer said his ministry would hire more cyber security experts, and set up a vigilance unit to prevent such attacks.