Germany's spy chief warns Russian cyberattacks could hit polls

AFP , Tuesday 29 Nov 2016

Germany's foreign intelligence service chief warned Tuesday that Russia could seek to disrupt next year's elections in Europe's biggest economy with cyber attacks.

"Europe is in the focus of these disturbances, and Germany particularly so," Bruno Kahl told the Sueddeutsche Zeitung daily in an interview published a day after Deutsche Telekom said hackers disrupted internet services for almost one million of its clients.

Kahl said there are indications that "cyberattacks are taking place with no reason other than to sow political uncertainty."

Asked if he agreed with Washington's assessment that Russia had sought to interfere in the US elections through cyber attacks, Kahl said that "there are indications that that came from this front."

"Attributing to a state actor is technically difficult. But there is some evidence that this is at least tolerated or desired by the state," he added.

Chancellor Angela Merkel had said early in November that Russia could try to influence Germany's general elections next autumn through cyber attacks or disinformation campaigns.

Meanwhile, hackers brought down or partially disrupted internet services for around 900,000 of Deutsche Telekom clients on Sunday.

Quoting unnamed security experts, Tagesspiegel daily said the attack may have been carried out by Russian hackers.

Germany has been the target of repeated cyber attacks in recent years.

In September, several political parties were targeted with fake emails purporting to be from NATO headquarters but which in fact contained a link that installed spying software on victims' computers.

The German parliament also fell victim in a 2015 attack that security services have since blamed on Russia.

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