Russian spies record secret German military talks by simply joining Webex call


Russian spies recorded top German military officials discussing possible deliveries of Taurus cruise missiles to Ukraine and potential targets. The Bundeswehr’s information security practices are now being called into question after the leaked 38-minute audio file was obtained by simply joining in on a Webex conference.

On March 1st, Margarita Simonyan, head of the Russian state broadcaster RT, published a transcript of what appears to be a discussion of German Air Force Generals and other senior leaders.

The Generals were debating possible deliveries of Taurus missiles to Ukraine, potential targets, including the Kerch Bridge, which links occupied Crimea to Russia and has strategic and political importance, and also theoretical possibilities of what would be needed for a successful attack.

Simonyan shared the full audio recording with a translation to Russian on her social media account. RT boasted that the chief of the Air Force, Lieutenant General Ingo Gerhartz, sad that: “It would be concerning if we have a direct connection with the Ukrainian armed forces.”

The Defence Ministry of Germany has confirmed the authenticity of the confidential recording, and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz described it as “a very serious matter,” the DW reports.

German military officers failed to use a secure encrypted channel for the conversation, joining a call on Cisco’s WebEx conference platform instead. Russian spies managed to intercept it.

Cisco's WebEx is frequently used by Bundeswehr officials, according to the report by Heise.de. However, end-to-end encrypted connections cannot be established on this system when dialing in by phone or browser. In many cases, IT managers must set up and activate the feature, and users must be assigned these options.

According to some reports by German media, one military officer dialed the conference from a hotel in Singapore with his cellphone. Russian spies may simply have dialed in unnoticed, the Stack reports.

It is yet officially unconfirmed what potential vulnerabilities were exploited by Russian spies.

The incident has caused turmoil among Germany’s politicians. The Chairwoman of the Bundestag’s defense committee, Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, has called for increased security and counterintelligence. Defense Minister Boris Pistorius had launched an investigation into what he called a hybrid attack by Russia aimed at spreading disinformation, as reported by the WSJ.

“Heads must roll now,” a former high-ranking Bundeswehr officer told Politico on condition of anonymity. “Conducting such a highly confidential conversation over an unsecured line is grossly negligent.”


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