Security experts said that hackers could steal browser 'cookies' in Poodle attacks, potentially taking control of email, banking and social networking accounts.

Berlin - All of Germany's government ministries and 17 members of its parliament were affected by a large-scale data-theft operation conducted by Eastern European hackers last year, the German news magazine Der Spiegel reported on Sunday.

A total of 16 million people were affected by the security breach, first reported last month. The theft included the email addresses and passwords for employees at the 14 ministries and those of the lawmakers. In total, more than 600 email login details were stolen from the government.

The security breach has been known to German authorities since August but was first reported last month.

The Federal Office for Information Security in January set up a website allowing internet users to ascertain whether their data had been accessed by the hackers.

The agency said the criminals had managed to infect millions of computers with a program that enrolled them onto a network, sometimes referred to as a botnet, from which the data was able to be stolen. - Sapa-dpa