• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3

BSI knew about huge data theft weeks ago

AFP/DPA/The Local · 22 Jan 2014, 11:09

Published: 22 Jan 2014 11:09 GMT+01:00

Millions of accounts containing passwords and email addresses were hacked by an unknown group, the Federal Office for Online Security (BSI) said on Tuesday. 

But BSI President Michael Hange told Bayerischer Rundfunk radio victims were only now being told because authorities had needed time to make preparations.

That included setting up a website where people can check whether their details were among those stolen. The site, which went live on Tuesday, quickly crashed as 300,000 internet users attempted to see if their email addresses were among the ones hacked.

"We needed time to set up a process in line with data protection regulations and we also worked together with a provider," Hange said.  

BSI said it had handled around 12. 6 million online queries and informed 884,000 affected users in Germany by Wednesday.

Justice Minister Heiko Maas, who is also responsible for consumer protection, has described the scale of the hack as "incomprehensible."

However he steered clear of laying blame on authorities for not making the hacking public sooner, stating he was "not familiar with such processes."

But he added: "If a tip is received and there is even a small chance that it's to be taken seriously, that must be communicated quickly."

"It's not just a case of computers being infected but about the theft of entire digital identities," Hange told the Tagesspiegel newspaper.

And Interior Minister Thomas de Mazière praised the BSI's "well-prepared operation".

The BSI said the theft had was discovered by criminal investigators but declined to say how or which authority had conducted the probe.

CLICK HERE for The Local's Technology section

If the site does match the users email address as one of the 16 million stolen, then the BSI said the users computer was likely infected with malicious software.

Story continues below…

Half of the accounts ended in .de meaning they were German-based, Tim Griese from Frankfurt-based BSI said on Tuesday.

Affected users are being warned to change all of their associated passwords, including those used to access social networks and for shopping online.

"In principle every form of abuse of data is possible," Thilo Weichert, Schleswig-Holstein state data protection officer,  told the Berliner Zeitung. "We need to take this very seriously."

READ MORE: Hackers access 16 million email accounts

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

AFP/DPA/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
What's on in Germany: July 2016
Berlin Pride celebrations. Photo: DPA

Beer, beach and the BMX - here's what's coming up in Germany this month.

Brexit vote
'Over 100,000 Brits' flood Berlin job site after Brexit vote
"Searching for job." Photo: DPA.

A German job-hunting website reported getting four times the amount of traffic from the UK that it normally does in the wake of the Brexit vote.

Man who stabbed Cologne mayor gets 14 years jail
Photo: DPA

The man who almost killed Cologne Mayor Henriette Reker when he stabbed her in the neck was sentenced to 14 years in jail on Friday.

Germany ups Turkey travel advisory after Istanbul attack
Berliners at the Brandenburg Gate mourn the victims of the Istanburl airport attack. Photo: DPA.

Germany on Friday warned its citizens to exercise particular caution if they travel to Turkey, following this week's deadly Istanbul airport attack.

Young Muslim takes on state on headscarf ban and wins
Aqilah Sandhu in court on Thursday. Photo: DPA

A 25-year-old lawyer has taken on the state of Bavaria over its attempts to stop her from wearing a headscarf - and scored a major victory.

Video
WATCH: Comic teaches about Ramadan on flying carpet
Photo: Screenshot from Dattelträger video.

A young comedian hopes his flying carpet stunt can help fight back against stereotypes - by becoming one.

Brexit vote
'It won't be romantic. But I need an EU passport'
Lucy Thomas (left), director at Give Something Back to Berlin. Photo: Private

British expats in Berlin tell The Local that a week after the Brexit vote they are still stunned - and are considering their next steps.

Town ravaged by floods tries to pick up the pieces
Rebuilding in Simbach. Photo: DPA

July 2nd should have been the start of a new life for Anna Kluchan and her husband. But then the floods came.

Lufthansa finally buries hatchet with cabin staff
Photo: DPA

Lufthansa and its cabin staff said Thursday they had reached an agreement on working conditions, bringing to an end a long and bitter industrial dispute that hit thousands of passengers.

Six burning questions for British expats about Brexit
Photo: DPA.

Uncertainty has kicked in over Brexit and what it may mean for Brits living in Germany.

Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
National
How to get German citizenship (or just stay forever)
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Technology
Brexit will turn Berlin into 'Europe’s startup capital'
International
'Germany needs to make UK come to its senses'
Sponsored Article
Education abroad: How to find an international school
Features
Six odd things Germans do in the summer
Sponsored Article
Health insurance for expats in Germany: a quick guide
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
Features
How two gay dads cut through German red tape to start a family
National
Five things to know about guns in Germany
Sponsored Article
US expats: Taxes are due June 15th
Culture
10 things you need to know before attending a German wedding
National
Eight weird habits you'll pick up living in Germany
Lifestyle
Six reasons 'super-cool' Berlin isn't all it's cracked up to be
Society
Only one country likes getting naked on the beach more than Germany
Lifestyle
23 ridiculously fascinating things you never knew about Berlin
Culture
8 German words that perfectly sum up your 20s
Lifestyle
Can't make it past the door at Berlin's most famous club? Help is at hand
Business & Money
Why Frankfurt could steal London's crown as Europe's finance capital
Features
6 surprising things I learned about Germany while editing The Local
Culture
Five sure-fire ways to impress Germans with your manners
Features
6 reasons Germany's summer is unbeatable for thrill-seekers
National
The future belongs to these 10 German regions
7,900
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd