World Bulletin / News Desk
A cyberattack targeting Germany's government IT network is "ongoing", the parliamentary committee on intelligence issues said Thursday, without confirming a media report that Russian hackers were behind the assault.
"It is a real cyberattack on part of the government system. It's an ongoing process, an ongoing attack," said Armin Schuster, chairman of the committee, adding that no further details would be given to avoid passing crucial information on to the attackers.
It said the hacker group known as APT28 -- which has been linked to Russia's GRU military intelligence agency and accused of attacks on Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign -- managed to plant malware in the ministries' networks for possibly as long as a year.
German security authorities only detected the online spying in December, the report said.
Konstantin von Notz, deputy of the committee, complained it was "completely unacceptable" that members of the oversight body only learnt of the attack through the media.
The government insisted the attack was "under control".
The interior ministry's parliamentary state secretary, Ole Schroeder, told regional newspaper group RND that the attack was "under control" after "a very successful operation by the federal security authorities".
"We succeeded, through excellent cooperation, to isolate and bring under control a hacker attack on the federal network," he said, adding however that the security measures had "not yet been completed."
Top security officials had repeatedly warned during Germany's 2017 general election that Russia hackers may seek to disrupt the polls.
While authorities did not have concrete proof, they have pinned the malware attack that crippled the Bundestag parliamentary network in 2015 for days on the APT28, also known as "Fancy Bear" or "Sofacy".
The attack netted 17 gigabytes of data which, officials feared, could be used to blackmail MPs or discredit them.
Amid the rising frequency of attacks, Germany's defence ministry in 2016 set up a cyber department to coordinate a response to online intrusions.