German officials are racing to bolster cyber security after a far-reaching data breach carried out by a 20-year-old student laid bare the vulnerability of Europe’s largest economy ahead of a critical European Parliament election in May. Officials say they are anxious to close security gaps and raise awareness ahead of the upcoming election, where voters from across the European Union will choose lawmakers for the parliament, amid concerns that foreign powers or right-wing forces could seek to manipulate the election. “We have to think about preventive measures,” Interior Minister Horst Seehofer told Reuters.
German authorities have said an unnamed student who lived with his parents had confessed to one of Germany’s biggest data breaches, that involved leaking personal data and documents of about 1,000 people, including Chancellor Merkel and other politicians and high-profile individuals.
“If it was so easy to break into accounts that a 20-year-old could do it in the bedroom of his parents’ home, others can do it too,” Holger Muench, head of Germany’s BKA federal criminal police, said.