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German data breach prompts calls for improved online security

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By Andrea Shalal and Hans-Edzard Busemann – BERLIN (Reuters) – German government officials called on Monday for a tightening of data security laws after a far-reaching breach exposed the documents of hundreds of politicians, including Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The leader of the opposition Greens party said he had canceled his Twitter and Facebook accounts following the data breach, one of the largest ever in privacy-conscious Germany.

Stephan Mayer, state secretary in the Interior Ministry, said authorities were working around the clock to investigate the breach, and would provide more details around mid-week.

Mayer reiterated that government networks had not been breached, but said the ministry was working to tighten the cyber security of critical infrastructure and would also beef up the federal cyber security center leading the current investigation.

“One bit of positive news is that government networks are apparently not affected by this or these hacker attacks. But it’s clear that we as the federal government … must do more to improve cyber security,” he said.

German police on Sunday searched the apartment of Jan Schuerlein, a 19-year-old IT worker in the southern city of Heilbronn.

Schuerlein said on Twitter he was being treated as a witness in the investigation given his contact with “0rbit”, the holder of a Twitter account that was used to publish the data but has since been shut down.


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