European elections 'could be hit by cyberattacks'

The head of Germany’s foreign intelligence service has warned that its election next year could be targeted by hackers.

Speaking to daily newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Bruno Kahl said Europe, and Germany in particular, would be the focus of such attacks to cause political instability and exert pressure on “public discourse and democracy”.

The US has alleged Russia was responsible for cyberattacks on the Democratic Party during the presidential election, after WikiLeaks released more than 50,000 emails from the account of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chief, John Podesta.

While Mr Kahl, whose agency is best known by its German acronym BND, said Moscow could have been behind that attack, he admitted it was technically difficult to prove any particular state was to blame and disclosed no evidence to support Russia being responsible.

Bruno Kahl, President of the German Federal Intelligence Agency (BND), gives a speech during the presentation of book editions with historic results of the independent Commission of Historians about Germany's intelligence agency at the BND's headquarters in Berlin on October 6, 2016. An independent commission of historians presented the first four of 13 planned publications about the BND at the grounds of the German Federal Intelligence Service (BND). / AFP / POOL / FABRIZIO BENSCH (Photo credit
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Mr Kahl says evidence suggests there was Russian involvement in hacking during the US elections

Claiming that technical traces left on the internet suggested those responsible wanted to demonstrate what they were capable of “and not just in the US elections”, Mr Kahl warned hackers could be plotting to subvert democracy.

“Some things speak for it being at least tolerated or wished for on the part of the state,” he said.

“The perpetrators have an interest in delegitimising the democratic process as such – whomever that later helps.

“I have the impression that the outcome of the American election isn’t causing mourning in Russia so far.”

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and the Kremlin have denied that the Russian government or any other “state parties” were the source of Mr Podesta’s hacked emails, and the US has yet to release an official evidence to support its claims.

BONN, GERMANY - MARCH 09: The logo of the German telecoms provider Deutsche Telekom is seen at the company's headquarters on March 09, 2010 in Bonn, Germany. (Photo by Kirsten Neumann/Getty Images)
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Germany’s Deutsche Telekom was hit by a cyberattack at the weekend

It comes as Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel revealed she had no information as to the origin of a cyberattack on Deutsche Telekom (DT) at the weekend which caused 900,000 users to suffer internet outages.

“Such attacks are a part of everyday life and people have to get used to them,” she told reporters.

A DT executive has claimed the assault was an attempt to hijack consumer router devices for a wider internet hack.  

German Chancellor Angela Merkel gives a news conference with Malta's Prime Minister (not in picture) in Berlin on November 29, 2016. / AFP / TOBIAS SCHWARZ (Photo credit should read TOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images)
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Mrs Merkel says ‘such attacks are a part of everyday life’

Germany’s election is expected to be held in September while votes in the Netherlands and France will take place earlier in the year.

Calling for an era of transparency and openness over the hacking threat, Mr Kohl said: “It is right to address this kind of thing openly.

“A kind of pressure is being exerted on public discourse and democracy that is not acceptable.”

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