Unknown attackers 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 reported by a news site. 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) declared at the beginning of last week that “high-ranking” politicians were being targeted by attackers and warned of a current campaign to take over user accounts in messenger services – but without naming the names of those affected . It is not yet known who is behind the social engineering campaign and what the goal is.
The attacker first obtains the cell phone numbers of two people who know each other. In a second step, the user is then either asked to communicate on a different, encrypted channel, for example via WhatsApp, Signal or Telegram instead of via SMS – or to set up a new user account on the suggested messenger channel. Finally, the supposed confidant asked the politicians to transmit the authentication code for the user account.
Social engineering: Access WhatsApp information via SMS
As Business Insider reports, Lagarde was contacted via text message using 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 said on Tuesday that Lagarde had been the victim of a cyber attack. “He was quickly identified and stopped. No information was compromised. We can’t say more as the investigation is ongoing.”
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