Hackers tried to gain access to the Whatsapp account of the President of the European Central Bank, Christine Lagarde, using the cell phone number of former Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU). However, the request failed, as “Business Insider” reported on Tuesday. According to information from the German Press Agency, the attempted fraud occurred after Merkel left office.
The Office for the Protection of the Constitution and the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) had warned politicians at the beginning of last week of a current campaign to take over user accounts in messenger services – but without naming the names of those affected.
According to the authorities, the reason for the warning was corresponding attempts aimed at several high-ranking politicians. It is not yet known who is behind the social engineering campaign and what the goal is.
According to the information, the attacker first obtained the cell phone numbers of two people who knew each other. In a second step, they were either asked to communicate on a different channel – for example via Signal or Telegram instead of SMS – or to set up a new user account on the suggested messenger channel. Finally, the supposed confidante asked the politicians to transmit the authentication code for the user account.
As reported by Business Insider, Lagarde was contacted via SMS with what appeared to be Merkel’s real cell phone number. The Frenchwoman was told that Merkel wanted to continue communicating encrypted on Whatsapp because that would make the conversation more secure. According to the report, however, Lagarde asked the former chancellor by phone to be on the safe side, so that the scam was exposed.
A spokeswoman for the European Central Bank (ECB) in Frankfurt (Main) said on Tuesday that Lagarde had been the victim of a cyber attack. “He was quickly recognized and stopped. No information was compromised. We can’t say more because the investigation is still ongoing.”