Data breach in Germany: Police search flat of teenage IT worker

Jan Schuerlein, a 19-year-old IT worker, is currently being treated as a witness by investigators – but security sources say detectives have sifted through his household rubbish and taken away his technical devices.

On Friday, Germany’s government confirmed that personal data and documents belonging to hundreds of politicians, including Chancellor Angela Merkel, had been published online.

The data was posted through a Twitter account which has since been suspended, and was released in batches before Christmas.

It is thought to be one of Germany’s biggest data breaches.

Mr Schuerlein posted on Twitter a screenshot of an online chat he had with the Twitter account on 4 January, in which the mystery user said he was planning to destroy his own computer equipment.

The case has similarities with the data breach which occurred during the 2016 presidential election in the US.

Private emails from the Democratic National Committee were stolen and published as part of what US authorities alleged was a Kremlin-directed information operation intended to damage Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

That information had been released through a Twitter account which was later identified as being operated by Russian military intelligence.

Speaking to Sky News about the German breach, Adam Meyers, the vice president of intelligence at cyber security firm CrowdStrike, said although the motivation behind the leaks is unclear, their “analysis of the Twitter follower network used to leak the data indicates that the leak may have a political angle”.

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