Despite Russia’s insistence that they are not trying to influence foreign elections, German political party members are claiming that their website has been hit with thousands of cyber-attacks. The vice chairman of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union says that their website has been hit with thousands of cyber-attacks before Sunday’s televised election debate. And most have come from Russian IP addresses.

With Merkel widely expected to win a fourth term, some German intelligence officials have often voiced concerns on whether Moscow would seek to interfere in the Sept 24 national election.

Ms Julia Kloeckner, vice chairman of Dr Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), said on Monday (Sept 4) that her political website had seen some 3,000 attacks on Sunday before the debate between Dr Merkel and Social Democratic leader Martin Schulz.

Following a pattern seen in earlier hacks, the CDU’s headquarters in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate, where Ms Kloeckner is the party’s leader, also experienced “massive attacks” ahead of the debate, she said.

“Many of the senders have Russian IP addresses,” Ms Kloeckner added.

German authorities have blamed a spate of cyber attacks directed at the German parliament, individual lawmakers, political parties and political think-tanks since summer 2015 on APT 28, a Russian hacker group with links to Moscow.

Some in German intelligence believe that Russian President Putin would like a different leader as the German Chancellor than Merkel. The Germans and Merkel despite being dependent on Russia for energy sources have supported economic sanctions against Russia for their actions in Ukraine.

The cyber-attackers were using phishing schemes to insert malicious software and search for vulnerabilities. German police and intelligence officials continue to investigate.

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