'Trojan Horse' in Bundestag: Merkel’s computer reportedly spread virus in German parliament

The main entrance of Germany's intelligence agency Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) (Reuters / Michael Dalder)
Hackers have reportedly used German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s computer to spread Trojan malware during a recent cyber-attack on the German parliament. The Bundestag’s internal computer network was hacked in May, but the virus may still be active.

Merkel’s computer was one of the first infected by the hackers, German Bild am Sonntag reported on Sunday.

The chancellor’s name was reportedly used to spread the virus to other computers through a fake invitation to a conference. The hackers, according to the newspaper, sent emails from the Chancellor’s account, with a link in the letter activating the Trojan virus’s installation on recipients' computers.

MPs have been warned not to click on the link. It is said the so-called Trojan has been found on fifteen computers. In five of those there is evidence that some data has been captured by the hackers, Bild am Sonntag reports. Given that the virus may still be active in the Bundestag, the affected hardware might need to be replaced.

German domestic intelligence service head, Hans-Georg Maassen, told a cyber conference in Potsdam on Thursday that the latest attack may have been carried out by a "foreign intelligence service." Spiegel Online reported the Russian foreign intelligence service was allegedly behind the attack.

Bundestag President Norbert Lammert, who also heads the Bundestag Administration, which has around 2,500 members of staff, and the Bundestag police, told lawmakers that there had been no further leak of information in the past two weeks. "That does not mean that the attack has been finally repelled and is over,"Frankfurter Rundschau has quoted him as saying.

Dirk Engling, spokesman for Europe's largest association of hackers, Chaos Computer Club (CCC), has said it will be extremely difficult and tedious to find those behind the attack, with bureaucracy and conflict of interests within institutions subordinate to the German Interior Ministry complicating the search.

The Bundestag administration came under fire on Friday for delaying notification of the cyber intrusion. Some officials were reportedly alerted in mid-May, while MPs were kept in the dark until this week, according to Deutsche Welle.

READ MORE: US ‘cuts’ spying cooperation with Germany over data leak

The documents, leaked by the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden in 2013, revealed that American intelligence systematically tapped Angela Merkel's private mobile phone and eavesdropped on millions of Germans using a listening post in Bavaria. The revelation led to the biggest diplomatic scandal between Berlin and Washington in years.

It's not the first time Bundestag security has been questioned. Last month, US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper reportedly ordered a review of cooperation between the National Security Agency and the German BND intelligence agency. Several joint projects have allegedly been canceled.

Citing an unnamed source in US intelligence, the Bild newspaper reported that Clapper was unhappy with Berlin's“inability to contain secret data.” According to the report, the Bundestag committee investigating the recent secret service scandals handed some secret documents to the media. For the US it is “more dangerous than what Snowden did,”Bild quoted the source as saying, referring to former NSA contractor Edward Snowden’s revelations of global surveillance.