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‘Advent Calendar of Doxxing’ Reveals Private Data of German Politicians, Including Angela Merkel

Germany’s government is scrambling to limit the damage of an anonymous data hack that’s revealed the personal information of hundreds of German politicians and media personalities, including Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The data dump targetted national and local politicians from every party other than the far-right Alternative for Germany and includes information from as recent as October 2018, including chat transcripts, phone numbers, bank account details, email passwords, and ID card scans.

Discovered Thursday night, the data was slowly released over the course of December as an advent calendar of doxxing. The Twitter accounts that posted the links were suspended Friday, with some media reporting a large part of the data dump as being made up of previously released information. Just a small portion is new, according to reports.

Merkel’s email address and several letters are included in the dump, alongside chat transcripts from Economy Minister Peter Altmaier. So far the trove seems to include no politically volatile data, public broadcaster ARD says, but a journalist from tabloid Bild says he’s found evidence that could lead to scandals.

It’s being described as a “hacker attack” by some German media and the government itself, but doxxing might be a better term. The federal IT security agency says parliament servers were not compromised.

An IT expert told Bloomberg the data seems to have been the bounty of large-scale social engineering. It’s likely the personal email and social media accounts of these politicians were not protected by two-factor authorization.

There’s no evidence so far pointing to Russia or the Bundestag hack from 2015, when unidentified criminals breached the network of the German parliament and stole 16GB of data.

“The perpetrators want to erode trust in our democracy and in our institutions,” German Justice Minister Katarina Barley told news agency DPA. “Criminals and their backers must not be allowed to dictate debate in our nation.”