Germany Warns Of Ukraine Crisis Hacking Risk

German financial regulator BaFin on Tuesday warned that a “very big and very present” risk of cyberattacks has been raised by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The warning follows a series of damaging cyberattacks on German wind-energy companies, which are seen as benefiting from any disruption in the EU’s use of Russian oil.

The conflict has made “cyberattacks on the German financial sector more probable”, said BaFin president Mark Branson, according to Reuters.

Speaking at an annual press conference, Branson said direct effects of the war and the resulting sanctions were manageable but that secondary and tertiary effects could be more problematic.

Hacker targets

Attacks on industrial infrastructure are complex and as a result are relatively uncommon.

The timing of the attacks on the three wind-energy companies, Deutsche Windtechnik, Nordex and Enercon, suggests they were motivated by support for Russia’s invasion.

Enercon, a maker of turbines for wind-energy farms, said its infrastructure was affected by an attack on a satellite company in February that occurred as Russian troops were entering Ukraine.

The attack temporarily knocked out remote control of 5,800 of Enercon’s wind turbines, although they continued to operate in automatic mode.

Nordex, also a turbine maker, said it discovered a security incident on 31 March that forced it to temporarily shut down its IT systems.

The company said it detected an intrusion at “an early stage” and initiated a response.

Growing risk

“The incident response team of internal and external security experts has been set up immediately in order to contain the issue and prevent further propagation and to assess the extent of potential exposure,” Nordex said at the time.

Deutsche Windtechnik, which specialises in maintenance of wind turbines, was hacked in April, knocking out remote-control systems for about 2,000 wind turbines in Germany for about a day.

Deutsche Windtechnik director Matthias Brandt told the Wall Street Journal that the crisis in Ukraine “shows us that renewables are replacing oil and gas in the future”.

Germany has so far rejected sanctions on Russian oil, on which it is heavily dependent, but has been gradually reducing that source with others.

At a Monday meeting of EU ministers Germany’s economic minister said the country would be able to weather a Russian oil ban by the end of this year, appearing to back tougher sancitons.

Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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