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Only a stroke of 'luck' that German media wasn't hit by IS cyber attack

The vice president of Germany's office for cyber security has called for better protection against hackers at media companies. Andreas Könen warned that public utilities may be next.

Following

a cyber attack on French television station TV5 Monde

by hackers loyal to the "Islamic State" (IS) terrorist group, Germany's Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) faced questions as to whether a copycat attack was possible.

What was surprising about this incursion, according to Matthias Gärtner, a spokesman for BSI, is that normally these incidents happen on websites. Speaking to the Mitteldeutschen Zeitung newspaper on Friday, Gärtner said that such an attack happening to a TV station was something new.

"If it could happen in Germany is difficult to say," Gärtner told the paper, "The more technology becomes reliant on the internet, the more space opens up for cyber attacks."

Gärtner added that television production has become strongly dependent on internet-based technology, and so the risk of breaches has grown. Along with the responsible French agencies, the BSI is also assisting in investigating the attack.

TV5 Monde, along with 11 related channels, their websites and social media accounts, were simultaneously blacked out by hackers for several hours late Wednesday and into Thursday.

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said the incident was believed to be linked to terrorism. The TV5 Monde website was infiltrated by a group calling itself "Cybercaliphate," which posted the message, "I am IS" in French.

Public utilities also vulnerable

BSI Vice President Andreas Könen also spoke to the media Friday, telling ARD television called it a stroke of "luck" that Germany hadn't suffered a similar violation. Könen argued that the weak point was not the country's digital infrastructure, which is "especially well set up," but the media industry itself, which requires more caution toward cyber security.

"It is a very import field, and we must protect it better," said Könen.

Könen also warned that public utilities like water and electricity were also vulnerable, as their systems are controlled by computers. He said a great deal of protection was in place, but as the landscape of hacking continues to evolve, cyber security must evolve as well.

es/jil (AFP, epd)

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