High-ranking party officials in German politics are concerned about Russian hackers spreading misinformation to influence the outcome of the 2017 election, according to the BBC.
The concerns are heightened by reports that Russians may have tried to influence the United States Presidential election in November, by hacking into the Democratic Party’s database and documents that were damaging to Hillary Clinton’s campaign bid.
Wolfgang Bosbach, a senior MP in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrat (CDU) party was quoted in a German newspaper as saying there was a “general danger” for the upcoming election for the Bundestag, Germany’s lower parliament, next year. He added there could be “influence-peddling via targeted infiltration from outside, with the goal of manipulating facts or opinions.”
Bosbach made his comments while discussing the concerns that the US has over possible Russian assistance for Donald Trump. Russian officials have denied any interference in the US elections and downplayed warnings from other Western states.
Rolf Muetzenich, a foreign affairs spokesman for the Social Democrat party (SDU) agreed, offering, “unfortunately we cannot exclude such activities in Germany, either.”
Officials from Germany’s intelligence agency, BfV, admits increasingly aggressive cyber-espionage, and add the indications of attempts to influence the elections are on the rise. Their sources say a hacker group, known to them as “Fancy Bear” or APT28 which the believe is controlled by the Russian state, is particularly active.
German intelligence also believes a set of secret files from the Bundestag committee that was investigating US National Security Agency spying on German politicians were obtained by Russian sources. Those files, from 2014-15, were released by Wikileaks earlier this year.
The American CIA suspects that Russian hackers were involved in attacks on US politics, but has not yet provided any concrete evidence. Meanwhile, members of both houses of Congress are calling for hearings and an internal investigation on the attempted break-ins.