On Thursday, authorities in Germany were made aware of an enormous leak of personal information belonging to artists, media figures, and politicians—including Chancellor Angela Merkel. The hack is being called the “biggest data dump” in German history and appears to contain a treasure trove of information that could be used for identity theft.
Early reports and tweets identified the source of the leak as a now-suspended Twitter account with the handle “@_0rbit” and username “G0d.” According to multiple reports, the account began posting the data in December, Advent-calender-style. The astounding collection of stolen information reportedly includes email addresses, documents, private correspondence, credit card information, passwords, family information, and even photocopies of personal ID cards. The victims included the members of virtually every political party in German Parliament, TV journalists, musicians, and YouTube stars.
While the Twitter account and an associated Blogspot have been removed, the information was still relatively easy to track down. One security researcher on Twitter noted that this dump was incredibly labor intensive with hundreds of mirror links ensuring the information would be difficult to take down. At least one link that Gizmodo viewed on Imgur disappeared a few minutes later.
One good thing that could come out of this mess is, politicians have begun to call for stronger data protection and security measures in Germany. Britta Haßelmann, the parliamentary executive director of the Greens, released a statement asking for proactive measures that include “a renunciation of state-run security with vulnerabilities, end-to-end encryption and the strengthening of independent supervisory structures.”
And suddenly they sit up and notice when it affects them personally