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Germany bolsters defenses against Russia cyber threat

July 12, 2022

Berlin is upping its cybersecurity defenses to counter the threat of Russian online attacks. Experts warn Germany is vulnerable to sabotage attempts and efforts to sow disinformation as war rages in Ukraine.

Data Background
European authorities have attributed a slew of data attacks to groups linked to Russian intelligence Image: Alexander Limbach/Zoonar/picture alliance

The German government on Tuesday announced plans to shore up cyber defenses in light of possible new threats from Russia.

Several major cyberattacks around the world have been traced to Russian intelligence-linked hackers in recent years.

Amid worsening relations with Moscow, Germany's government fears the war in Ukraine will exacerbate the threat.

What is planned?

The new measures involve promoting cyber resilience among small- and medium-sized enterprises. That would apply to "critical infrastructure," businesses involved in transport, food, health, energy and water supply.

Also included is the introduction of a secure central video conferencing system for the federal government. There will also be a centralized platform for the exchange of information on cyberattacks between state and federal structures, based at the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI).

Meanwhile, the IT infrastructure of Germany's domestic intelligence agency and police is to be modernized.

What is cyber warfare?

Why take action now?

German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser presented the paper on cybersecurity, saying the war in Ukraine had highlighted the potential aggression that Germany faces at the cyber level.

"The sea change we are facing in view of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine requires a strategic repositioning and significant investment in our cybersecurity."

The paper noted "how essential cybersecurity is for a modern, high-tech and digitized industrialized country like Germany."

The document warns that sabotage and disinformation are capable of "massively and persistently impairing or even disrupting the functioning of our community and our economy."

Russian cyberespionage comes to Germany

A Microsoft report in April said destructive cyberattacks by state-backed Russian hackers had been targeted against critical infrastructure as part of the war in Ukraine itself. Many times, the report noted, these were simultaneous to physical attacks. Ahead of the invasion, the US tech giant highlighted the presence of dangerous malware on dozens of Ukrainian government computers,

Germany has in recent years repeatedly accused Russia of state-sanctioned hacking attempts, something the Kremlin denies.

In the most high-profile incident blamed on Moscow to date, hackers paralyzed the computer network of the lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, in 2015.

Pro-Kremlin group Killnet was last month linked to a distributed-denial-of-service (DDOS) attack on Lithuania's secure national data network.  

rc/sms (dpa, AFP)

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