Germany probes Regin-powered cyberespionage

The malware program was found on the laptop of a German federal official

It looks like Chancellor Angela Merkel is not the only German official who might have been spied on by the nation's allies. The head of a German Federal Chancellery unit reportedly had his laptop infected with Regin, a cyberespionage program believed to be used by the U.S. National Security Agency and its closest intelligence partners.

The German federal prosecutor's office has opened an investigation into the breach, which came to light in 2014, German news magazine Der Spiegel reported Friday. The Chancellery is the federal agency that serves Merkel's office.

Regin is one of the most sophisticated malware programs ever discovered. It has over 75 modules that enable a range of functionality, including password theft, network traffic capture, screen shot grabbing, recovery of deleted files and data exfiltration.

According to reports from several security companies, it was used to spy on Internet service providers, telecommunications backbone operators, energy firms, airlines, government entities, research institutes and private individuals around the world.

There are strong indications that Regin is a computer network exploitation (CNE) platform referred to as WARRIORPRIDE in documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and which is used by the intelligence agencies of the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia and New Zealand -- known as the Five Eyes intelligence partnership.

In January, Der Spiegel released a keylogger program dubbed QWERTY from the trove of files leaked by Snowden that the magazine believed was part of WARRIORPRIDE. Researchers from antivirus firm Kaspersky Lab later analyzed the program and concluded that it was identical to a known Regin plug-in and even had code referencing a different Regin module.

Previous reports that the NSA tapped Angela Merkel's mobile phone strained relations between Germany and the U.S. Prosecutors in Germany launched an investigation into that claim, which was also based on documents leaked by Snowden, but it was later dropped due to insufficient evidence.

If Regin is indeed WARRIORPRIDE, as many security experts believe, the program's presence on a German Chancellery official's laptop is unlikely to be a coincidence. However, since the tool is used by the intelligence agencies of five different countries, identifying the perpetrator in this case might prove difficult.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Lucian Constantin

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?