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Malware attack forces German state parliament offline

Internet and telephone networks at the regional parliament in the central German state of Saxony-Anhalt are offline after a Trojan malware attack. Authorities are still investigating to find the cause.

State Parliament of Saxony-Anhalt (picture-alliance/dpa/P. Gercke)

A virus has crippled the computer network of the parliament in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt.

According to criminal investigators, an employee at the state parliament opened a spear-phishing email attachment on Wednesday that contained ransomware.

Read more: What is ransomware?

Employees and representatives were immediately instructed to take their computers and telephones offline as a "contingency measure," Katja Schmidt, a spokesperson for the parliament, told local MDR news.

The employee's computer was infected as well as part of the computer network.

Earlier in the day, the automatic doors to the state parliament building experienced problems. However, it was unclear if it was related to the cyberattack.

Source unknown

IT experts and state police are now investigating the source of the malware. The incident comes just over three weeks before the German federal election.

Read more: Experts warn of election cyberattacks threat in Germany

Authorities have been on high alert for potential meddling in the September 24 election following allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election.

Over the past two years, the German parliament, the Bundestag and Chancellor Angela Merkel's CDU have all been targets of cyberattacks.

German intelligence suspects Russia of being behind the cyberattacks in order to steal information.

Watch video 04:19

Russian hackers to target German elections

cw/cmk (dpa, MDR)

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