German security authorities continue to see the threat situation in cyberspace as very tense due to the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine. Attacks in connection with pro-Russian actors have increased, said the President of the Federal Criminal Police Office, Holger Münch, at a conference on cyber security at the Hasso Plattner Institute in Potsdam. “But we assumed even worse scenarios.”

The Vice President of the Federal Intelligence Service, Wolfgang Wien, said of the Ukraine war: “We have to assume that the conflict is not over, and it won’t be over anytime soon.” Therefore, an increase in attacks is to be expected.

Germany narrowly avoided a crisis in two cases last year, said the Vice President of the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI), Gerhard Schabhüser. On the one hand, a Russian attack on a satellite system also paralyzed the remote maintenance of many wind turbines in Germany. On the other hand, the supply of petrol and mineral oil in north-eastern Germany was threatened by a presumably pro-Western hacker attack on the German subsidiary of the Russian energy company Rosneft. “It was a relatively small attack, but with a big impact.” Schabhüser said: “We are still in the red zone.”

“Don’t do your IT yourself, use service providers”

However, the cyber attacks are often limited to so-called DDoS attacks, with which the accessibility of websites is restricted by mass queries, said Schabhüser.

The BSI Vice President sees the greatest threat to the economy and municipalities in ransomware attacks, in which cybercriminals demand ransom from their victims. He referred to the district of Anhalt-Bitterfeld, where important citizen services did not work for 207 days due to an attack last year. He called on the smaller municipalities in particular to outsource IT services to suitable professionals: “Don’t do your IT yourself, use service providers.”