back to article Germany hacked: Angela Merkel's colleagues among mass data dump victims

German politicians, journalists and other prominent public figures have been doxxed by hackers who distributed their personal data on Twitter, according to local reports. A slew of prominent figures and organisations were seemingly targeted for the data dump operation. "Contact details such as hundreds of mobile phone numbers …

  1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

    "It is also puzzling where the data was actually sucked off."

    This hack must have come as something of a blow to those concerned

    1. Come to the Dark Side

      "It is also puzzling where the data was actually sucked off."

      A story with a happy ending?

      1. big_D Silver badge

        Which is more than you can say for Google Translate. It is funny at best, diabolical at worst.

        1. Andy Non Silver badge

          To be fair, the German was a bit of a mouthful.

          1. big_D Silver badge

            Google seems to have real problems with translating to/from German.

            And no, the German wasn't a bit of a mouthful, although it sounds like the hackers had their mouths full with the data... :-D

            A while back I had to translate a user manual from English to German in a hurry, so I thought I'd save time and throw it through Google Translate and just "tidy it up a bit" - I am not a professional translator.

            After picking myself up from off the floor, laughing, I told my boss he would just have to wait a couple of days and translated it by hand.

            GT seemed to have real problems with formal English. I had written the original document with statements like "do not do this", "do not do that". Translate turned it into "tu dies" and "tu das" (do this and do that).

            So statements like "do not open the case, high voltage inside" became "das Gehäuse öffnen, Startstrom drinnen" (open the case, high voltage inside).

            The best one was "do not open the case, no user serviceable parts inside," which became "Gehäuse öfnnen, nichts drin" (open the case, nothing inside). Not something you want to read when handing over around 4K for an industrial touchscreen PC.

            The plus side is, I submitted the corrections and a month or so later, it was translating correctly. But you have to know that the translation is wrong, before you can correct it, which for most people is probably not the case, otherwise they probably wouldn't be using Translate.

            Can you imagine a safari park that translated their "do not leave the vehicle, wild animals" signs into German (Das Auto verlassen, wilde Tiere - leave the vehicle, wild animals)?

            1. Rich 11 Silver badge

              Can you imagine a safari park that translated their "do not leave the vehicle, wild animals" signs into German (Das Auto verlassen, wilde Tiere - leave the vehicle, wild animals)?

              More to the point, why would the safari park address German tourists as if they were wild animals?

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Yup it obviously required a hand job

            3. charlieboywoof

              I use this

              and find it very good, according to my German colleagues too


              1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
                Thumb Up

                Re: I use this

                I was just about to say the same. I've heard very favourable reports from multi-lingual friends, for several European languages.

              2. Rustbucket

                Re: I use this

                FYI, DeepL Translator reads the German text in the footnote as "It is also puzzling where the data was actually extracted."

            4. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              I've seen a fire safety notice in a UK hotel where the French translation was obviously done mechanically, with no thought for ambiguities. For "leave the hotel" it had the French for "do not take the hotel with you", among other gems.

            5. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              "The plus side is, I submitted the corrections and a month or so later, it was translating correctly. "

              It sounds like Google translate is crap at translating but good at matching phrases to user submitted translations. The only reason it sometimes gets it right is because people like you have submitted actual translations to specified phrases. How much are they paying you? ? :-)

            6. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge

              Say what?

              How appropriate that the translation gem appeared at the end of the article, immediately above El Reg's own "Tips and corrections" link... similar to the ability Google Translate provides to allow users to give feedback on its output. If only someone made use of that ability...

      2. adam payne Silver badge

        Well yes until the GDPR man comes calling.

  2. Tigra 07 Silver badge

    Sucky security?

    "During our research for this article, Google Translate threw up this gem: "It is also puzzling where the data was actually sucked off.""

    Ahem. Looks like a clear suck and dump to me...I mean no one has been blackmailed right?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sucky security?

      Suck and dump?

      Spitters are quitters...

  3. Frank Bitterlich

    AfD data missing

    Another theory on why the dump lacks data from any AfD politicians so far ist that the data might be somewhat old (and the AfD having made it into Bundestag this legislative period for the first time.)

    Unfortunately the reporting on what exactly has been dumped is a bit thin so far in most German media.

    So I'll leave it to the usual tinfoil hats to make up a suitable conspiracy theory on why they have been spared. Bob, you are reading this, right?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: AfD data missing

      Nah Bob is not interested - not a Crump conspiracy (I assume ?????)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: AfD data missing




    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: AfD data missing

      The lack of AfD information maybe coincidence, indicate a lack of knowledge of current German politics, that the data was obtained prior to the last German election before they had a political impact or indicate the AFD do things a little differently.

      There was a suggestion that Outlook email was involved (which I interpreted as spearfishing) which could explain the timescales going back to 2009.

    4. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: AfD data missing

      So I'll leave it to the usual tinfoil hats to make up a suitable conspiracy theory on why they have been spared. Bob, you are reading this, right?

      Perhaps "Bob" is part of the President's PR department has been laid off due to the government shutdown? If we're going with conspiracy theories might as well dump one more out there.

      1. The Nazz Silver badge

        Re: AfD data missing

        re Bob

        Maybe, Bob has gone for an actual DUMP and as he's so full of it it's taking some time.

        Who knows. Who cares.

      2. shawnfromnh

        Re: AfD data missing

        My first thought was 4 chan and maybe /b/ is hinted at by bob with help from pol. It would be nice to have the old 4 chan hackers back. Hell now hack the DNC systems and release that it wasn't Russia but a certain man named Seth that copied the files and sent them to Assauge before being murdered.

  4. DavCrav Silver badge

    Guardian headline right now: May to begin fresh round of Brexit phone talks with EU leaders

    At least we know where she got the number.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Guardian headline right now: May to begin fresh round of Brexit phone talks with EU leaders

      You bet GCHQ has the entire phonebook of Huawei-Germany. Which is the same as the phonebook of Germany.

      1. shawnfromnh

        Re: Guardian headline right now: May to begin fresh round of Brexit phone talks with EU leaders

        I bet GCHQ's has blackmail material on many world politicians and there is blackmail on GCHQ leaders and it's one big blackmail scheme to keep the politicians in line because they all love young lovers on the side and sometimes get caught with someone much younger than they look. It would explain all the insane new laws and politicians insane opinions globally.

  5. Justicesays

    Looks like another "Dump 'n Trump" move...

    But who is the Trump?

  6. Doctor Syntax Silver badge


    Isn't having their private data hacked something that should only happen to the little people?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Angela is 5'5" ...Apparently not big enough.

      Might need taller upper crust (with with big hands, lol)

  7. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Date being sucked up?

    It makes a change from it being Zucked up.

  8. Jens Goerke


    IIRC there was a rather long period a while back when the German government's IT infrastructure had been hacked before being replaced with new kit.

    The data could have been siphoned off during that time, after which it took the perpetrators even more time to sift through the raw data to separate the wheat from the chaff, and end up with what they finally dumped on twitter. So if the published data isn't newer that the date when the IT infrastructure was replaced that'd be a clue to the data's possible origin.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is this better, or worse, than finding that a "friendly" government has/is recording all your calls?

    Not that anyone would.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Be careful what you wish for

    Wasn't Angela pushing to have backdoors into encrypted communications?

    1. shawnfromnh

      Re: Be careful what you wish for

      Heck with all the high tech that was being produced out of China she would have gotten that backdoor before she asked for it but they don't give you the codes just the shaft.

  11. devTrail Bronze badge

    Usual scapegoating article

    As usual, big media keep fingerpointing Russia to cover up their responsibility. Never forget that what brings fame or what brings votes is not the tone of the coverage, but the attention, when a party is covered by such obsessive attention it can only gain votes as it happened with Trump in the US. Afd is similar to Wilders' VVD in the Netherlands, the Northern League and M5S in Italy, Golden Dawn in Greece and so on. Fake parties created to divide and rule the opposition with the support of mainstream media. In Germany and the Netherlands they helped the center parties to keep their majorities even though they lost votes. In Italy and Greece it worked even better, but not for their merit, but for the collapse of the real opposition slowly corroded from the inside (see the Labour).

    So can this be a Russian operation? Maybe, Russians may have done the dirty work on behalf of who can pay. Germany is becoming like the UK or other European countries where most of the media is controlled by few rich families and a bunch of American corporations. But seeing this event as a sole Russian initiative is ridiculous, they don't have the power and the resources to counter the the US backed establishment.

    1. Carpet Deal 'em Bronze badge

      Re: Usual scapegoating article

      Assuming it's not just the age of the data, the lack of AfD information in the dump suggests to me a frame job, which would make it more likely someone with anti-Russian sentiments; a professional, state op would be better conducted than to leave such a glaring omission(unless this is a Russian frame job made to look like a frame job against them - but at that point of speculation we're just tumbling down rabbit holes).

    2. shawnfromnh

      Re: Usual scapegoating article

      They hate Russia because if Russia makes a great peace treaty with Trump then the arms dealers and political investors would not receive their cash/kickbacks or profits since you don't use a lot of ammo or need a ton of plane parts during peacetime since there are only maintenance flights not intense long or extreme flights. Hell so much money would be lost from peace it's a lot of politicians and arms dealers nightmare.

  12. developer_xxl

    not pointing any fingers but..

    a few hours after the order to pull iphone from germany? I'm not surprised.

  13. GSTZ

    Not much of a hack, it seems ...

    While not all details are known yet, it almost seems that some youngster(s) with limited hacker skills went into the darknet and bought lots of stolen passwords. Over several months, they skimmed that stuff and picked hundreds of German politicians and other well-known people such as actors and TV showmasters to extract private data from accounts belonging to them. While they picked any politician not belonging to the far-right equivalent to the UKIP in Britain, they treated other celebrities more selectively with a clear preference for those who engage themselves socially and support more liberal views.

    This is seen as a big affaire here in Germany, some politicians speak of "a big attack against democracy" and many non-experts blame the victims as digital idiots. The BSI cyber security agency is blamed for poor communication and for not constantly snooping on each and every Twitter account for potential data leaking. And of course, much stricter laws are demanded - as if this could be of any help ...

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