Merkel, hundreds of German politicians hit by mass cyber breach

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Personal data and documents from hundreds of German politicians and public figures have been published online, the government said on Friday, adding that no sensitive material from Chancellor Angela Merkel's office was released.

"The German government takes this incident very seriously", Fietz said.

"With regard to the chancellery it seems that, judging by the initial review, no sensitive information and data have been published and this includes (from) the chancellor", the spokeswoman told a regular government news conference, as reported by Reuters.

The data includes home addresses, mobile telephone numbers, letters, invoices, and copies of identity documents. Members of Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) were particularly badly hit, with some 400 CDU politicians' data leaked, reports German daily Bild.

Berlin public broadcaster RBB Inforadio was the first to report on the hack.

A cyber attack targeted parts of the German government network, including the foreign ministry, early previous year, Reuters reported.

Emails, phone numbers and holiday photos of MPs, journalists and entertainers were released by a Twitter account.

The German president, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, was among those targeted by the leaks.

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"Those responsible want to damage confidence in our democracy and their institutions", Katarina Barley, the German justice minister, said.

Last March, computer networks belonging to the German government came under sustained attack and data from foreign ministry staff were stolen.

It is not clear when the hacks happened, but it is being reported much of the information appears to have been stolen in October 2018.

German politicians and prominent newsmakers have fallen victim of what appears a brazen hack attack on their private data.

It's unclear why no one was aware of the data leak until Friday. "The BSI is now intensively examining the case in close cooperation with other federal authorities", the agency tweeted on Friday.

A cyber analyst told the BBC there was speculation that hackers might have exploited weaknesses in email software to get hold of passwords that those targeted had also used on social media accounts.

The documents were posted online as early as December over a Hamburg-based Twitter account that released them in an Advent calendar style.

Immediate suspicion will be directed towards Russian state-sponsored hackers.

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