Germany’s Defense Ministry Uses “1234” as Password, German Media Can’t Hold Back

Recently, the German military was embroiled in controversy due to a leaked audio recording involving discussions about “considering assistance to Ukraine in attacking the Crimea Bridge,” leading to severe criticism within the country. The German Defense Ministry has responded to the incident, but it was during this period that a baffling security detail emerged, attracting further scrutiny from the already tense German media.

On March 3rd, German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius held a press conference regarding the espionage scandal, and part of his speech was published on the German Defense Ministry website as an encrypted audio document on March 4th. The ministry advised that visitors could access a 13MB MP3 audio document on the Bundeswehr’s cloud storage server by clicking the document link and entering the password “1234”.

During a speech in Berlin on March 3rd, Defense Minister Pistorius addressed the media about the German military’s conversations being intercepted by Russia, denouncing the act as an “information warfare”. Although the audio document was not categorized on the cloud storage, and the password “1234” might have been a temporary placeholder, the simplicity of the password still drew criticism from the German media. Bild newspaper posted a screenshot of the ministry’s password prompt in its report, questioning, “Is it really safe to use the password 1234?”

Bild pointed out that it remains unclear how Russian operatives managed to intercept and obtain a 38-minute long recording of a conversation among senior German military officers. The fact that these high-ranking officials were eavesdropped on while using “WebEx” (a third-party remote meeting software) for highly confidential conversations has led to severe doubts about the Defense Ministry’s level of secrecy and potential security lapses.

Following the largest espionage scandal in recent years in Germany, Bild called out the Defense Ministry, saying, “However, after such a major espionage scandal, our Defense Ministry still used such a simplistic password as ‘1234’, a detail that is indeed embarrassing.” Bild urged the Defense Ministry to avoid using such simple passwords in the future, whatever the circumstances.

Additionally, a previous report by Russia Today (RT) on March 1st mentioned that RT’s editor-in-chief, Margarita Simonyan, released an audio recording. In the recording, General Ingo Gerhartz, the chief of the German Air Force, along with other senior officials, discussed the potential deployment of “Taurus” cruise missiles in Ukraine, whether these missiles could technically destroy the Crimea Bridge, and how to dissociate Germany from direct involvement in the conflict.

The 19-kilometer-long Crimea Bridge, the longest bridge in Europe, serves as the only land connection between the Crimea Peninsula and mainland Russia. It is a crucial supply line for Russian forces in the Ukraine conflict and is seen as a symbol of Russian control over Crimea. In the approximately 38-minute conversation, officers also discussed whether Ukraine could attack the bridge without German soldiers’ involvement and how many missiles Germany could supply to Ukraine. One German officer mentioned that the military forces of the USA and the UK “have already been directly involved in the Russia-Ukraine conflict.” The authenticity of the recording was quickly acknowledged after its exposure.