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Secret army unit likely exposed in hack

The identities of members of a secret Swiss army unit may have been revealed in a hack of the Swiss defence ministry and the RUAG defence contractor, according to the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper.

Defence Minister Guy Parmelin said on May 4 that the spying had taken place during the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos. On Sunday, the NZZ am Sonntag reported that Russian IT specialists had gained access to personal data of members of a special Swiss military unit known as AAD 10, which carries out risky operations in foreign countries.

“We’re racking our brains trying to determine whether the elite soldiers will have to be given new identities,” an “insider” told the newspaper.

According to a press statement released by the Defence Ministry on Wednesday, the government works closely with defense contractor RUAG, whose IT system was the target of the attacks.

Historically, and due to the fact that RUAG is an important business partner, there exist numerous interfaces between the IT systems of the defence department and the defence contractor, the statement said.

As a result of the interfaces, it can also be assumed that the hackers have gained access to information about armament projects, the Swiss army’s strategic plan, and technological projects, the newspaper reported.

According to another weekly newspaper, the Sonntagszeitung, in 2015 the Federal Office of Information Technology, Systems and Telecommunication had given RUAG access to personal information about more than 30,000 federal employees , as well as members of Parliament.

“That an organization that was just the victim of IT attacks has access to such sensitive information is ‘explosive,” the Sonntagszeitung said.

Defence Minister Guy Parmelin told the NZZ that a task force had been created to investigate the affair.

Meanwhile, in an editorial on Sunday, the NZZ am Sonntag wrote: “Kremlin exposes secret soldiers – the news should be a wake-up call for everyone working in IT in Bern.”