Lawmakers need to brace for hacking attempts ahead of a European election and get better at protecting their information online, Germany’s interior minister warned in the aftermath of a breach that exposed the private data of almost 1,000 German politicians. “We’re facing European elections in May of this year,” Horst Seehofer told journalists Tuesday. “I don’t want to conjure up or predict anything, but we have to brace ourselves for preventing attempts to influence those elections.” Seehofer announced efforts to increase cybersecurity awareness among public figures and Germany’s general population, in addition to plans for a yet-to-be-developed “early warning system” that could alert authorities and individuals about their private information being shared online.
Earlier on Tuesday, authorities announced that they have released a 20-year-old student after he confessed to publishing a data dump with information about more than 1,000 public figures, including high-ranking politicians up to Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Authorities said they believe the suspect, who lives with his parents, acted by himself, and that no foreign government was behind the breach. The suspect could be charged with spying on people’s private data and face years in prison, but was released as police don’t consider him a flight risk.