‘The danger is real’: Germany’s cyber security chief on hacking and security strategy before elections

‘The danger is real’: Germany’s cyber security chief on hacking and security strategy before elections

Germany’s IT commissioner, Klaus Vitt is not taking any chances with cyber security in the run-up to the parliamentary elections in September.

Placing the current level of threat at increasingly critical was just one of those decisions. Vitt also made some interesting revelations during the course of the interview with Politico where he discussed Germany’s cyber security strategy before the elections.

According to his analysts and experts, most professional attacks that they have been subject to, originate from China and Russia. And in an effort to counter, what is seen as a situation ripe for exploiting, Germany’s Cyber security watchdog has raised its security levels with impending elections and will now be liaising and cooperating with private security companies.

Vitt is not worried about the elections being hacked because Germany does not use electronic voting machines. However, he is aware that in the run-up, election contestants can have their data compromised. And so, the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) agency had been advising members of the Parliament in the run-up to the elections and are starting with the basics. Like the presence of robust anti-malware software on their personal computers and laptops.

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He further added that with the increased digitisation of society, they had witnessed a rise in complicated attacks from hackers using more intelligent malware and systems. ‘The threat situation is becoming increasingly critical. We still observe many security breaches in software and hardware, as analyzed in the BSI’s annual report on the state of IT security. This in itself is critical,’ he added.

In a separate interview with the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag, Arne Schoenbohm, from BSI said: “We are noticing attacks against government networks on a daily basis.”

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Learning a thing or two from the allegations of cyberattacks during the US presidential elections, Schoenbohm said that his agency is currently aiming for a state of ‘heightened readiness’ before the elections. There is every reason for Germany to be worried about possible tampering as they go into the elections. In 2015, the lower house of the German Parliament (Bundestag) was hacked and all the desktop computers compromised.

A report on the hacking later reviewed that hackers ‘possibly from Russia’  had been privy to exchanges between the 5000 people on the Bundestag system for almost three weeks before making off with a massive trove of data. Interestingly, it is still not known, what the actual extent of the hack was.


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