(Reuters) – Unidentified hackers tried to trick European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde into opening a messaging account in her name by pretending to be former German Chancellor Angela Merkel, a German source said on Tuesday.
The document was quickly annulled without any information being compromised, an ECB spokesman said.
“We can confirm that there has been a recent cybercrime attempt involving the President,” said an ECB spokesman. – It was identified and stopped quickly. No information has been compromised. We have nothing more to say because an investigation is underway. “
The incident was first reported by Business Insider.
A source familiar with the matter told Reuters that hackers claiming to be Merkel sent a message to Lagarde asking her to reveal an authentication code that would have allowed them to open a WhatsApp account linked to the ECB chief̵7;s phone number . There was no official confirmation of this.
In a letter dated July 4 and seen by Reuters, Germany’s domestic intelligence service and the Federal Office for Information Security warned German lawmakers that such a system was in place but without naming any of the targets.
“Specifically, the attackers are exploiting the existing relationship of trust between two high-ranking political figures,” it said, referring to a “social engineering campaign.”
Although the tactics were not new, the German authorities said that this system was unique in that it used the form of top politicians.
“Both parties who pass on authentication data to the attackers lose control of the respective messenger account. The attackers can then use this account, for example to attack other people”, the letter warns.
It said that such a system usually asks mobile phone users to switch from SMS to WhatsApp, but also Signal or Telegram, both of which market themselves as securely encrypted apps.
Reuters has contacted Merkel’s office for comment.