Traffic light politicians warn of gaps in cyber defense

Berlin Politicians from the SPD and the Greens have warned of deficits in companies and state institutions when it comes to defending against cyber attacks. The most recent cyber attacks by Russian hackers on websites of German authorities are “the harbingers of what attacks can still come our way,” Sebastian Fiedler told the Handelsblatt.

“In particular, German medium-sized companies should take the greatest possible security precautions, if they haven’t already done so,” warned the SPD politician. Naturally, these companies could not maintain such large organizational units for cyber defense as large corporations. Until he entered the Bundestag in 2021, Fiedler was chairman of the Association of German Criminal Investigators.

Green security politician Sara Nanni also believes investments in cyber defense are necessary. “We are more or less blank at the moment,” Nanni wrote on Twitter. “This is a real, tough security issue.”

The Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) also points out the problem. “As a result of Russia’s illegal attack on Ukraine and the subsequent solidarity of various groups of criminals with the two warring parties, the threat situation has also increased in Germany,” said the authority at the “Cybercrime Conference 2022” this Monday in Berlin.

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According to the BKA, the number of recorded cyber crimes has risen steadily in recent years – again by more than twelve percent in 2021. The authority sees so-called ransomware attacks, which threaten companies and authorities alike, as one of the greatest challenges.

The latest victim is the agricultural machinery manufacturer AGCO/Fendt

Hackers encrypt data or lock operating systems in order to then demand a ransom for decryption. According to a study by the digital association Bitkom, the damage caused by blackmail with stolen or encrypted data has increased by more than 450 percent within two years.

In this context, SPD domestic politician Fiedler criticized deficits in the security authorities of the federal states. “Some interior ministers will have to stretch themselves enormously here in order to be prepared for further massive attacks,” said Fiedler. Then other areas of fighting crime would have to take a back seat. He had convinced himself how “incredibly drained” the criminal police in North Rhine-Westphalia was. “The air is very, very thin there.”

Sebastian Fiedler

In addition to the SPD politician, the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) also points out the problem.

(Photo: IMAGO/photothek)

On Friday it became known that the Allgäu agricultural machinery manufacturer AGCO/Fendt, based in Marktoberdorf, had fallen victim to a massive ransomware attack. The entire US AGCO group is affected, as the manufacturer of agricultural machinery confirmed from its headquarters in Duluth (Georgia). The attack, which is said to have been launched from Finland, “impaired” some production facilities worldwide – including in Marktoberdorf.

The magazine “Der Spiegel” reported at the weekend about cyber attacks by pro-Russian actors on the websites of German security authorities, ministries and politicians, who were temporarily unavailable. The attacks were aimed, among other things, at the federal police and several state police authorities. The Bundestag, the Federal Ministry of Defense and the SPD website of Chancellor Olaf Scholz were also among the goals of the campaign.

Office for the Protection of the Constitution warns of Putin’s unpredictability

According to the report, these were so-called DDoS attacks (“Distributed Denial of Service”), in which the attackers try to paralyze servers with a flood of requests. The Russian hacker group “Killnet” has confessed to this in the messenger service Telegram.

Russia’s attack on Ukraine is increasingly bringing Germany into the focus of Russian hackers. “The cyber threat situation for the NATO states and thus also the Federal Republic of Germany has worsened significantly in recent weeks,” said the President of the Thuringian Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Stephan Kramer, the Handelsblatt. With Western support for Ukraine, the countries concerned would become “legitimate targets for Russian cyber attacks” from Russia’s point of view.

Read more about the threat of Russian cyberattacks and counter-reactions:

Kramer fears that the situation could deteriorate further. “Realistically, there could be similar attacks in the sense of acts of sabotage,” said the intelligence officer. “I am thinking here of the vulnerable areas of our energy supply, transport, communication, health and various supply and production chains in business and industry.”

The analogous threat situation for the oil, gas and chemical industry should not be underestimated either. “Everything that can lead to chaos and bottlenecks or supply failures is potentially useful and desirable for the attacker in the Russia-Ukraine war.”

At the same time, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution warned of the consequences of the unpredictability of Russian President Vladimir Putin. “Putin’s behavior is becoming less and less predictable and predictable given his dwindling options,” Kramer said. “We are therefore increasingly crossing the line from indirect war to direct participation in the war against Russia.”

In this situation, legal opinions would be of little help. In the end, it all depends on how Moscow evaluates the West’s support for Ukraine, such as arms deliveries, stressed Kramer. “So sooner or later we will become a direct target of Russia’s attack.” You have to prepare for that.

More: Home Secretary Nancy Faeser: “It definitely makes sense to have an emergency supply at home.”

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