Source: Der Spiegel
A special cyber security unit of the German Armed Forces (Bundeswehr) conducted its first offensive cyber operation abroad when it broke into an internal network of an Afghan mobile operator while assisting in a hostage release operation, it has emerged.
Personnel from the Bundeswehr’s Computer Network Operations Unit (CNO) hacked the network of the Afghan mobile operation to pinpoint the location of kidnappers after a German development assistance expert was abducted in Kabul, Der Spiegel daily reported, citing its sources.
The German military’s cyber operation took place in autumn last year, after the expert, identified only as Kaethe B., who worked in the Kabul office of the German Association for International Cooperation (GIZ), was kidnapped on August 17, 2015.
German authorities started to negotiate the hostage’s release with the kidnappers. The CNO was tasked by the German crisis staff with monitoring the kidnappers’ phone conversations and pinpointing their location to ensure that they intended to comply with the negotiated deal.
The cyber unit was also tasked with providing data to the German Special Forces Commando (KSK), which would have launched a hostage extraction operation if the negotiations had failed. The CNO managed to hack into a local internet provider’s network and establish a real-time surveillance over the kidnappers.