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German And Czech Officials Say GRU Hackers Exploited Unknown Vulnerability In Microsoft Outlook

James King, MPA
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German and Czech officials have said that hackers from Russia’s GRU military intelligence unit leveraged a previously unknown vulnerability in Microsoft Outlook to carry out a cyberespionage campaign targeting the emails of Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democratic Party and other sensitive government and industrial targets.

The German Interior Ministry said in a statement that the hacking campaign began at least as early as March 2022, a month after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, with emails at Social Democrat party headquarters accessed beginning in December. German companies in the defense and aerospace sectors as well as targets related to the war were also a focus.

The Council of the EU and the Czech Foreign Ministry said Czechia’s institutions have also been targeted by the same group known as APT28 or Fancy Bear. International efforts led by the FBI shut down in late January a botnet of compromised network devices used by the hackers in the cyberespionage scheme according to the German statement.


German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock attributed the hacking to a unit of Russia’s GRU military intelligence unit. “This is absolutely intolerable and unacceptable and will have consequences,” she said at a news conference in the Australian city of Adelaide without specifying what the consequences might be.

Relations between Russia and Germany were already tense with Germany providing military support to Ukraine in its ongoing war with Russia. The hacking revelations have further strained ties between the two countries.