Germany Raises Cyber-Attack Warning Level Ahead Of Elections

Germany’s national information security office has raised its warning level for cyber-attacks and is recruiting more staff ahead of parliamentary elections later this year.

The moves, announced by Arne Schoenbohm, president of the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI), follow disruptive computer attacks during the US presidential elections last year.

Heightened readiness

Schoenbohm said the BSI had moved into a state of “heightened readiness” in order to be able to respond quickly in the event of an incident, and said the office was seeing regular attacks on government systems.

“We are seeing attacks against government networks on a daily basis,” he told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper.

The BSI advises the Bundeswahlleiter, the office that oversees federal-level elections, as well as the federal states and the political parties on IT security issues.

Schoenbohm has said the country’s parliamentary elections coming up in September, preceded by regional elections, make Germany a prime target for electronic disruption this year.

‘Highly specialised attacks’

In an interview with Der Spiegel earlier this month he said Germany’s government networks were targeted by 20 “highly specialised attacks” last year.

“That is the reality when it’s not an election year,” he said.

He said the BSI was working with Germany’s parties to make them aware of the risks posed by hackers, such as those who published data stolen from the US’ Democratic Party ahead of the election.

In part due to its role in this year’s elections the BSI has said it is hiring 180 new staff this year, increasing its staff by one-third.

At the CeBIT trade fair in Hannover Schoenbohm presented a new mission statement for the BSI emphasising its role of “prevention, detection and response” to cyber-threats targeting the state, business and society.

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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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