Hackers threaten more attacks on official computers after arrest

Police have arrested a man suspected of helping hack into German customs authority computer systems as part of a scheme to post sensitive data online earlier this month, prompting threats of further computer security attacks.

Hackers threaten more attacks on official computers after arrest
Photo: DPA

The 23-year-old German is suspected of having obtained and manipulated sensitive data, according to Cologne’s public prosecution office.

Investigators confiscated evidence from the man’s apartment for analysis by investigators and he was due to be brought before a magistrate on Monday.

At least one of the customs service’s computers has been penetrated, disrupting a police spy programme that is supposed to keep tabs on suspected terrorists and major criminals.

The intrusion was apparently undertaken with the help of spyware or Trojan programmes that went unnoticed for many months, while the investigation has been particularly difficult because many of the attacks were routed through Russian computers.

But as the official investigation into the hacking gathered strength, on Monday the group calling itself the “No Name Crew”, which has claimed responsibility for the hacking, threatened further attacks if the investigation didn’t immediately stop.

It posted an extract of data from what appeared to be a classified police “communications plan” from Koblenz. This was marked secret, and contained phone numbers and email addresses of a selection of various state offices. A spokesman for the federal police played down its importance on Monday, saying the plan was outdated and had been widely circulated.

The group has a count-down on its webpage, leading to July 28, when it says it will post data it grabbed during the hack of another, until now unidentified ‘federal computer’.

The hackers have said they had ‘sniffed’ at all network traffic between the federal criminal police, the customs and other federal police, and boast they have seen, “mails, notices, confidential data and every dirty detail.”

The government has put together a ten-person task force to figure out what went wrong and come up with recommendations to thwart future attacks. Other media reports blame the use of cheap software to try to protect the computer systems, which were thus easy for the hackers to break into.

In addition to the customs attack, the “No Name Crew” has taken responsibility for targeting right-wingers online, including the extreme-right National Democratic Party (NPD).

But they’ve also faced the anger of vigilante citizens trying to snuff them out. Vigilante “cyber-cops” posted a 19-year-old’s name and photo online, claiming he was a part of the group.

But he denied that charge to the news media and police have shown little interest in him.

DPA/DAPD/The Local/mdm

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German man jailed for killing petrol station worker in mask row

A 50-year-old German man was jailed for life Tuesday for shooting dead a petrol station cashier because he was angry about being told to wear a mask while buying beer.

German man jailed for killing petrol station worker in mask row

The September 2021 murder in the western town of Idar-Oberstein shocked Germany, which saw a vocal anti-mask and anti-vaccine movement emerge in response to the government’s coronavirus restrictions.

The row started when 20-year-old student worker Alex W. asked the man to put on a mask inside the shop, as required in all German stores at the time.

After a brief argument, the man left.

The perpetrator – identified only as Mario N. – returned about an hour and a half later, this time wearing a mask. But as he bought his six-pack of beer to the till, he took off his mask and another argument ensued.

He then pulled out a revolver and shot the cashier in the head point-blank.

On Tuesday, the district court in Bad-Kreuznach convicted Mario N. of murder and unlawful possession of a firearm, and handed him a life sentence.

READ ALSO: Shock in Germany after cashier shot dead in Covid mask row

Under German law, people given a life sentence can usually seek parole after 15 years. His defence team had sought a sentence of manslaughter, rather than murder.

At the start of the trial, prosecutor Nicole Frohn told how Mario N. had felt increasingly angry about the measures imposed to curb the pandemic, seeing them as an infringement on his rights.

“Since he knew he couldn’t reach the politicians responsible, he decided to kill him (Alex W.),” she said.

Mario N. turned himself in to police the day after the shooting.

German has relaxed most of its coronavirus rules, although masks are still required in some settings, such as public transport.