Hackers target German branch of Russian oil giant Rosneft

The German subsidiary of Russian energy giant Rosneft has been hit by a cyberattack, the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) said on Monday, with hacker group Anonymous claiming responsibility.

Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder (SPD) talks at an event in Berlin in 2021.
Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder (SPD) talks at an event in Berlin in 2021. Schröder is chairman of the board of directors at Rosneft. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christoph Soeder

Rosneft Deutschland reported the incident in the early hours of Saturday morning, the BSI said.

Anonymous had published a statement on Friday claiming responsibility for the attack and saying it had captured 20 terabytes of data.

Prosecutors in Berlin have opened an investigation, according to a report in Der Spiegel magazine.

Rosneft Deutschland reportedly subsequently took its systems offline. Its pipelines and refineries continue to operate as normal, the report added.

The BSI had warned in early March of a heightened risk of cyberattacks and an “increased threat situation for Germany” after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, advising businesses to increase IT security measures.

READ ALSO: How Germany is preparing to ward off future cyber attacks

It has now issued a new cybersecurity warning to other companies in the oil industry.

Rosneft Deutschland says it has been responsible for around a quarter of all crude oil imports to Germany in recent years and has stakes in three
refineries in the country.

Rosneft chief executive Igor Sechin is a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder is chairman of the board of directors, a role that has seen him receive heavy criticism in recent weeks.

The Anonymous hacker group has claimed responsibility for cyberattacks on several Russian institutions since the start of the conflict in Ukraine, including the Kremlin itself, the defence ministry, the Duma lower house of parliament and pro-Kremlin Russian media.

Anonymous said it “didn’t want to mess around directly with the Russian energy companies… because there are some sanctioning states whose energy supply is linked to Russia”.

“But Rosneft Germany is interesting enough,” it added.

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German police foil teenage school ‘Nazi attack’

German investigators said Thursday they foiled a school bomb attack, as they arrested a 16-year-old who is suspected to have been planning a "Nazi terror attack".

German police foil teenage school 'Nazi attack'

“The police prevented a nightmare,” said Herbert Reul, interior minister of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) state.

Police in the city of Essen had stormed the teen’s room overnight, taking him into custody and uncovering 16 “pipe bombs”, as well as anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim material.

Some of the pipe bombs found contained nails, but officers did not find any detonators, Reul said.

There are “indications suggesting the young man has serious psychiatric problems and suicidal thoughts,” said Reul.

Material found so far in the suspect’s room include his own writing which constituted “a call for urgent help by a desperate young man.”

The suspect was allegedly planning to target his current school or another where he studied previously.

“All democrats have a common task to fight against racism, brutalisation and hate,” said NRW’s deputy premier Joachim Stamp, as he thanked police for “preventing a suspected Nazi terror attack”.

The suspect is being questioned while investigators continue to comb his home for evidence.

Investigators believe that he was acting alone.

They had been tipped off by another teen who informed them that the young man “wanted to place bombs in his school”, located about 800 metres from his home.

The school, as well as another institution, were closed on Thursday as investigators undertook fingertip searches as the locations to ensure that no bombs had been placed on site.

‘Neo-Nazi networks’ 

Germany has been rocked by several far-right assaults in recent years, sparking accusations that the government was not doing enough to stamp out neo-Nazi violence.

In February 2020 a far-right extremist shot dead 10 people and wounded five others in the central German city of Hanau.

Large amounts of material championing conspiracy theories and far-right ideology were subsequently found in the gunman’s apartment.

And in 2019, two people were killed after a neo-Nazi tried to storm a synagogue in Halle on the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur.

Germany’s centre-left-led government under Chancellor Olaf Scholz took office in December pledging a decisive fight against far-right militants and investigators in April carried out country-wide raids against “neo-Nazi networks”, arresting four suspects.

The suspects targeted in the raids were believed to belong to the far-right martial arts group Knockout 51, the banned Combat 18 group named after theorder in the alphabet of Adolf Hitler’s initials, US-based Atomwaffen (Atomic) Division or the online propaganda group Sonderkommando 1418.

German authorities were also battling to clean extremists from within their ranks. Last year, the state of Hesse said it was dissolving Frankfurt’s elite police force after several officers were accused of participating in far-right online chats and swapping neo-Nazi symbols.