Germany Warns Of Cyber-Attack Threat

Germany, Brandenburg Gate © S.Borisov Shutterstock 2012

Cyber-threats ‘one of the biggest challenges’ in the coming years, according to Germany’s defence minister, as Bundestag reportedly hacked

Germany’s defence minister, Ursula von der Leyen, has warned of the growing danger posed by cyber-attacks as the country’s government conducts a review of its information security measures.

The remarks follow reports last week that malware was found in the computer systems of the Bundestag, Germany’s legislative assembly, including Chancellor Angela Merkel’s own computer, with an official attributing the attack to the foreign intelligence service of an unknown country.

Bundestag compromised

Hans-Georg Maassen, the head of Germany’s domestic intelligence service, told a press conference last week that Russia was possibly behind the Bundestag hack.

“Cyber-attacks by the Russian (intelligence) service are highly sophisticated and cause us great concern,” Maassen reportedly said.

Von der Leyen called cyber-attacks “one of the biggest challenges for international security in the coming decades”, saying they can “cause enormous damage” to the country’s economy and public services, according to the newspaper Welt am Sonntag.

adblockShe told the paper she is looking to increase the role of Germany’s unified armed forces, the Bundeswehr, in the Cyberabwehr, the country’s National Cyberdefence Centre. “The Bundeswehr can make an important contribution,” she said.

Her comments echo those made by British Prime Minister David Cameron and US President Barack Obama in recent months, with Obama in January calling cyber-attacks an “urgent and growing danger”. The US in February introduced a measure allowing sanctions to be imposed upon countries launching attacks on IT systems.

Phone tapping case closed

Germany’s top public prosecutor recently closed an investigation into the alleged tapping of Merkel’s mobile phone by US intelligence agencies, saying there was a lack of evidence that would hold up in court.

The case was begun after Edward Snowden, a former contractor for the US’ National Security Agency (NSA), released documents reportedly indicating the NSA had tapped Merkel’s phone and that Germany’s intelligence service, the BND, had helped the NSA to spy on European officials.

The disclosures caused a public outry in Germany, but Von der Leyen last month defended the BND’s collaboration with the NSA. “Being able to trust each other is key and that cannot be lost in all the necessary debates,” she told newspaper Bild am Sonntag at the time.

The US Senate last week approved a bill that would limit key NSA data-collection powers.

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