Briton faces court over Deutsche Telekom cyber attack that hit 1 million German homes

A British man admitted in a Cologne court on Friday to staging a large-scale cyber attack on Deutsche Telekom last year, saying he was acting for a Liberian client.

Briton faces court over Deutsche Telekom cyber attack that hit 1 million German homes
The 29-year-old Brit in court on Friday. Photo: DPA

The 29-year-old described as “the worst mistake of my life” the attack that knocked more than a million German households offline in November and added his motivation was money.

The defendant, who was not named, was arrested in February at London's Luton airport on a European arrest warrant for attempted computer sabotage and extradited to Germany.

German police said the goal was to infect users' computers with a “botnet” – a network of web-connected machines that can be manipulated with malware and used to attack other online targets.

The Briton told the court he was paid $10,000 (about €8,500) by a Liberian telecom company which wanted to use the botnet to damage a rival company.

He said he had taught himself IT skills and attended a few programming courses, testifying with the help of a translator.

The verdict was expected on Friday, July 28th. If found guilty, he faces up to ten years' jail in Germany.

Around a million of Deutsche Telekom's 20 million customers were unable to connect to its network for several hours last November.

The attack, which the company said caused about €2 million of damage, ended when it advised customers to disconnect their routers and restart them after a software update.

The large-scale strike fuelled concerns over cyber security in Germany and officials have warned that more online assaults are possible ahead of a general election in September.

The country has already been the victim of repeated hacking attacks in recent years.

In 2015, hackers targeted Germany's lower house of parliament in an attack that security services have since blamed on Russia.

Germany has also anxiously eyed the impact of leaked documents obtained by hackers during last year's US presidential campaign.

SEE ALSO: Merkel says Germans must learn to live with Russian cyberwar


Hacker, 22, who released personal data of German politicians charged

German prosecutors said Tuesday they had brought charges against a 22-year-old hacker who released personal data of dozens of politicians, journalists and other public figures online, embarrassing national authorities.

Hacker, 22, who released personal data of German politicians charged
Photo: DPA

The German man — arrested in January last year — is accused of multiple computer crimes, as well as making false reports to the police and attempted blackmail.

Police at the time of his arrest said he had confessed to stealing and leaking online private data — so-called “doxxing” — from hundreds of politicians and public figures, among them Chancellor Angela Merkel.

READ ALSO: Suspect, 20, arrested over massive German politician data hack

The accused said his motive was being “annoyed” at some of their public statements.

The 2018 case prompted German authorities to promise beefed-up IT security, coming just three years after the federal parliament's computer network was crippled by a hacking attack since pinned on the Russian state by Berlin's intelligence services.

Tuesday's charges cover 73 cases where the accused acquired “personal data, especially telephone numbers, addresses, credit card data, photos and communications” belonging to his targets.

Investigators said he used email providers' password reset facilities to gain access to the people's accounts, as well as trawling a “hacker website” shut down by American authorities in January 2020 for login details already acquired by third parties.

When arrested, officials said the suspect had made a “comprehensive” confession and shown “clear remorse” for his hacking attacks on around 1,000 people.

Between December 1 and December 24, 2018, he released a drip-feed of personal data on his Twitter account with the display name “G0d” in a so-called “advent calendar”.

He repeated the data drop the following month using the Twitter account of a YouTube personality to which he had acquired access.

Further charges include a blackmail attempt against six German MPs, in which the hacker demanded Bitcoin payments worth around €900 in exchange for withholding their personal data.

He is also accused of making three false reports to the police of imminent bomb attacks or mass shootings between June 2016 and December 2018, as well as triggering two investigations against other people with false crime reports in the same period.