German officer used unsecured line for hacked call | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #hacker

A German military officer used an unsecured phone line at a Singapore hotel to join a conference call that was hacked by Russians and leaked to the public, Germany’s defence minister says.

The fallout from the leaked audio tape, which features four high-ranking German air force officers discussing hypothetically how Taurus long-range cruise missiles could be used by Kyiv against invading Russian forces, has embarrassed the German government and further increased tensions between the two countries.

“Not all participants adhered to the secure dialling procedure as intended,” German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius said as he briefed reporters in Berlin on the initial results of an ongoing investigation.

The minister said the officer in question, whose name he did not give, had taken part in the Singapore Air Show, and then dialled into the WebEx call using either his mobile phone or the hotel’s wi-fi but not a mandatory secured line.

“For the Russian secret services, it was a real find. … Targeted hacking took place in the hotels used across the board,” Pistorius said on Tuesday.

A Taurus missile flies off the country's western coast in South Korea

There had been a months-long debate in Germany about suppling Taurus missiles to Ukraine. (AP PHOTO)

“It must therefore be assumed that the access to this (phone) conference was a chance hit as part of a broad, scattered approach.”

Pistorius said the investigation was ongoing, overall security had been increased and preliminary disciplinary proceedings were being considered, but severe personal consequences were unlikely.

“I will not sacrifice any of my best officers to Putin’s games, to put it very clearly,” he said, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The 38-minute audio leak was posted by Margarita Simonyan, chief editor of the Russian state-funded television channel RT, on social media on Friday, the same day that Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was laid to rest after his death two weeks ago in an Arctic penal colony.

While German authorities have not questioned the authenticity of the recording, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said last week that delivering those weapons to Ukraine was not an option – and he did not want Germany to be drawn into the war directly.

However, Russia’s foreign ministry on Monday threatened Germany with “dire consequences” in connection with the leak. It did not elaborate.

Relations between the two countries have steadily eroded since Russia invaded Ukraine two years ago.

In the leaked audio, four officers, including the head of Germany’s air force, Ingo Gerhartz, can be heard discussing deployment scenarios for Taurus missiles in Ukraine before a meeting with Pistorius.

The officers said early delivery and rapid deployment of Taurus missiles would only be possible with the participation of German soldiers.

The officers said training Ukrainian soldiers to deploy the Taurus on their own would be possible, but it would take months.

The recording also shows the German government has not given its OK for the delivery of the cruise missiles sought by Ukraine.

Pistorius said that while the damage caused by the leak was severe, “the mistake is still being worked through and we must now turn our attention back to more important tasks”, such as how Germany and its allies could continue to help Ukraine fight Russia.

There had been a months-long debate in Germany about whether to supply the Taurus missiles to Ukraine as Kyiv faces battlefield setbacks until Scholz said last week Germany would not deliver the missiles.

With military aid from the United States held up in Congress, Germany is the second-biggest supplier of military aid to Ukraine after the US, and it is further stepping up its support this year.


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