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Bundeswehr wiretapping scandal: How secure is Webex?

Hida Winkle is a tech blogger from Ohio with a degree in mass communication and a gift for writing. She is the editor-in-chief of Hida’s favorite subjects are technology and building art. She is also a huge fan of Anime and Manga.

Taurus discussion

March 4, 2024

By Elke von Rekowski

Reading time: approx. 9 minutes

A Webex online conference among Bundeswehr senior officers was apparently recorded by Russia. How could that happen? Were those involved too careless or was there a technical security leak?

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Unauthorized people listened in on an online conference among Bundeswehr senior officers. Is the technology too insecure?

The fact that it was possible to spy on such a confidential conversation is a political scandal and at the same time raises the question of how secure the online conference medium used actually is. Has the appropriate channel been chosen for such meetings and are there perhaps alternative options that guarantee a higher level of security?

Bundeswehr conversation: Many questions – hardly any answers

The Federal Ministry of Defense is currently keeping a low profile on details of the wiretapping scandal. Therefore, there is only speculation as to whether a spy from Russia simply dialed into the conference and recorded everything as a silent participant, or whether the conference was “hacked” from outside using technical means, which raises questions about the technical security aspect of the chosen solution raises.

Also read: DIN – First security requirements for video conferences

The audio recording of a meeting between the air force inspector and three other officers appeared in Russian chat channels on Friday. According to the information obtained, the meeting took place on February 19th via the video conferencing solution Webex instead of. The topic was the possible use of German Taurus weapon systems in Ukraine. While the Department of Defense confirmed that the conversation was intercepted, it could not confirm whether the content was unchanged.

Social engineering at play?

What is certain is that information has become public. If a spy was actually able to dial in unnoticed, the problem could lie with the users themselves. They could have been too careless with the dial-in data and passed it on.

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