Long before the CIA and FBI came to the public conclusion last week that the Kremlin had interfered in the U.S. presidential election with the aim of helping Donald Trump, a senior German intelligence official told colleagues that Russia was interfering in German politics. The federal security agency had observed “active measures” from Russia to influence public opinion, Thomas Haldenwang, the deputy president of the domestic security agency BfV, warned senior German security officials at a conference in Berlin in June. The aim, Haldenwang said, was “to influence public perception and opinion in our country, to the detriment of the German government.” With elections due for next year, government officials now fear that Russian President Vladimir Putin has trained his sights on Chancellor Angela Merkel, one of the most visible critics of Russia’s involvement in Syria and Ukraine, as the next target for a Kremlin misinformation campaign. During a press conference earlier this month, Merkel, who will run for office again next year, said that cyberattacks and a misinformation campaign during the election were “possible.” Konstantin von Notz, the Green party’s spokesperson on internet policy in the German parliament, was blunter. “There’s a real danger that the bitter experience of the U.S. election could be repeated here,” he said.
Already, there have been several, apparently politically motivated cyberattacks. In January 2015, a pro-Russian group hacked German parliament websites, including Merkel’s, bringing them down during a visit of Ukraine’s then-prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, in what the group said was retaliation for German support of Kiev.
Later in the year, news broke that a group identified as APT28 or Fancy Bear — the group that also reportedly penetrated the networks of the Democratic National Committee in the U.S. — had gained access to the servers of the Bundestag, according to Germany’s Federal Office for Information Security, and had been able to roam around undetected for several months, collecting information.
Full Article: Russian influence looms over Germany’s election – POLITICO.