Germany says grappling with hacker threat

BERLIN - Germany's defence minister warned of the growing threat of cyber attacks as a newspaper reported that malware had been found on the parliamentary-office computer of Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The report came a few weeks after it emerged that hackers had attacked the Bundestag's (lower house of parliament) computer system.

Speaking to newspaper Welt am Sonntag, Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen said that cyber attacks were one of the biggest challenges for international security, citing the"enormous damage" they can cause to the economy. "The range of threats spans cyber-spying and sabotage to cyber war," she said.

Separately, newspaper Bild am Sonntag reported that malware had been found on a computer from Merkel's parliamentary office.

It cited a spokesman for Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) as declining to comment. It was also not clear whether information had been successfully taken by the malware.

Germany's top public prosecutor recently closed its investigation into the suspected tapping of Merkel's mobile phone by US spies, saying there was a lack of evidence that would stand up in court.

Dropping its inquiry in a case that caused strains between Germany and the United States, the prosecutor said it could not find evidence backing allegations from former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden that Merkel's phone was bugged.