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Germany data breach: teenager being questioned by police

Germany data breach: teenager being questioned by police

A 19-year-old German man is being questioned by police over a huge data breach that affected hundreds of politicians and celebrities. Police raided the teenager’s house in the town of Heilbronn in south-west Germany on Sunday and took away the contents of rubbish bins and computer equipment. Identified only as Jan S, he has denied…

A 19-year-old German man is being questioned by police over a huge data breach that affected hundreds of politicians and celebrities.

Police raided the teenager’s house in the town of Heilbronn in south-west Germany on Sunday and took away the contents of rubbish bins and computer equipment.

Identified only as Jan S, he has denied being the main perpetrator behind the leaks but claims to know “Orbit”, the hacker who has claimed responsibility via Twitter.

Jan S, who works in the IT industry, told the state broadcaster ARD he had been questioned “for several hours”. He is so far being treated as a witness in what is believed to have been the biggest security breach in German history.

It was revealed on Friday that Germany’s national agency for IT security, the BSI, was investigating a data leak affecting many prominent politicians, including the chancellor, Angela Merkel, and the president, Frank-Walter Steinmeier. The information, drip-fed on Twitter throughout December, included mobile phone numbers, credit card details, contact information and family photographs. Celebrities and journalists were also affected.

The interior minister, Horst Seehofer, is to meet the heads of the federal criminal office and the BSI on Monday to discuss the investigation. He is expected to demand to know exactly when the BSI became aware of the case, after it dismissed a security breach in December as an isolated incident, apparently failing to see it as part of a much wider breach.

Seehofer has come under attack for failing to address the issue publicly and for not providing reassurance to ordinary Germans about the safety of their data.

On his Twitter account, Jan S said he had been in touch with the hacker known as Orbit for years via an encrypted messenger service. He said Orbit had sent him an email shortly after the publication of the hacked data, telling him he was planning to destroy his computer so he could not be traced. Jan S said the alleged hacker had since deleted his account with the messenger service.

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