German police bust teen hacker ring

Bavarian authorities have broken up a hacker ring based around a 33,000-member internet forum called 'hacksector,' police announced on Tuesday.

German police bust teen hacker ring
Photo: DPA

Eleven suspects ranging in age from 15 to 22 years old have been taken into custody, along with more than 20 laptop computers, Augsburg police spokesman Manfred Gottschalk told The Local. Seven of the suspects are younger than 18 years old.

“We are at the beginning of our investigation,” Gottschalk said.

All but one of the suspects have been released pending charges being filed, he said. Police are investigating the teens on suspicion of intent to intercept private information.

Investigators are sifting through data on the computers as well as about 1,000 CDs and numerous external hard drives confiscated during an April 9 raid.

Authorities stumbled upon the hacker forum in November while investigating a credit card fraud case. The German-language site had been in operation since 2006, Gottschalk said.

About 700,000 postings on the site included some legal data processing questions, but police said the main topic was hacking, including how to swap user data, buy credit card information or ‘crack’ passwords. One posting dealt with a computer program that made it possible to create a credible fake German identity card within minutes.

“This was information one could use to in other crimes, such as fraud,” Gottschalk said.

The suspects are from the German states of Baden-Württemberg, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate, Lower Saxony and Hamburg.


Germany opens anti-cartel probe into Google Maps

Germany's anti-cartel watchdog said Tuesday it has opened a probe into Google Maps over restrictions that may be giving it an unfair advantage over competitors.

Germany opens anti-cartel probe into Google Maps

“The proceeding is to examine possible anti-competitive restrictions imposed by Google Maps Platform to the detriment of alternative map services providers,” the Federal Cartel Office said in a statement.

Andreas Mundt, president of the watchdog, said it had reason to believe that Google “may be restricting the combination of its own map services with third-party map services, for example when it comes to embedding Google Maps location data, the search function or Google Street View into maps not provided by Google”.

The move comes after the Federal Cartel Office in January classified Google´as a company of “paramount significance across markets”, paving the way for the authorities to clamp down on any potentially anti-competitive activities.

Parallel proceedings are already ongoing to examine Google’s terms and conditions for data processing and its news offer Google News Showcase.

An amendment of the German Competition Act came into force last year, allowing the authority to intervene earlier, particularly against huge digital companies.

The watchdog has also classified Meta, the company that owns Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram, as a company of “paramount significance across markets”.

Big tech companies have been facing increasing scrutiny around the globe over their dominant positions as well as their tax practices.

The EU and Britain in March opened antitrust probes into a 2018 deal between Google and Meta allegedly aimed at cementing their dominance over the online advertising market.