Teenage hacker could be to blame for Germany data breach

Police in Germany have arrested a 19-year-old man in connection with a large-scale data breach that hit the some of the country’s celebrities and political figures last week, the Guardian reports.

 Authorities broke into the young suspect’s house in Heilbronn, south-west Germany in the early hours of Sunday 6th January, seizing computer hardware as well as items in the resident’s waste bins.

The man, named as Jan S, has denied being the principle actor behind the cyber leak, but maintains that he is acquainted with “Orbit”, another hacker who took to social media to claim primary responsibility for the attack.

Using his Twitter account, Jan S claimed he had had contact with the alleged perpetrator, and that the pair had communicated through encrypted messaging for a number of years. Orbit had apparently sent an email to Jan S as news of the data hack emerged, instructing him of Orbit’s intentions to destroy his computer in a bid to avoid being caught.

Speaking to German broadcaster, ARD, Jan S said that the police interrogation had gone on for several hours. The IT industry worker is now listed as a witness to his country’s largest ever data breach.

Last week news broke that German Federal Office for Information Security (the BSI) had launched a probe following a massive data leak that counted leading politicians, such as Angela Merkel, among its victims. Journalists and German celebrities were also caught up in the malicious activity.

The intrusion led to private information being published on Twitter throughout December, with family photographs, phone numbers, credit card information and other personal details among the data compromised.

The investigation is under discussion today, with interior minister, Horst Seehofer and the BSI spearheading talks on what steps to take next. Crucial to proceedings is more detailed knowledge of when the BSI discovered something untoward was taking place; also in December, the government body brushed aside a security breach, labelling it an isolated incident.

In response, the BSI agency has said that it could not have linked individual cases that it was aware of last year “until the entire data release became public,” Reuters reports.

The interior minister is already navigating choppy waters due to his failure to respond adequately to growing public concern about data security in Germany.


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