Security authorities in Germany have called on critical infrastructure companies in particular to arm themselves against cyber attacks in view of the escalating conflict between Russia and Ukraine. According to information from the Reuters news agency, the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) has warned companies twice in the past few days to take appropriate precautions.
"Against the background of the current situation in the Ukraine conflict, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution has sensitized relevant bodies with regard to the IT infrastructure within the scope of its responsibility," said the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution on request.
Federal Minister of the Interior Nancy Faeser explained that the security authorities are strengthening their cyber defences. "The security authorities have ramped up the protective measures to ward off any cyber attacks and made the relevant bodies aware," said the minister to the editorial network Germany. All information came together in the National Cyber Defense Center, which closely follows current developments.
"Collateral damage in Germany cannot be ruled out"
Officially, the BSI only wanted to say, with reference to the confidentiality of contacts with companies, that the assessment was coordinated with other authorities. However, the assessment sent to the companies, which Reuters was able to see, states:
Alluding to previous cyber attacks, it is said that it is to be expected that there will be further sabotage attacks on Ukrainian IT systems. Due to the networking of many systems, collateral damage in Germany cannot be ruled out. Politics, administration and companies important for Germany's infrastructure could be affected. This includes, for example, the energy sector.
Also warnings in UK
The British authorities also warned of cyber attacks with "international consequences". The UK's National Cyber Security Center (NCSC), part of the GCHQ intelligence agency, has urged UK companies to "step up their online defences". The NCSC referred to the recent incidents.
Last week, a spate of DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks briefly took Ukrainian bank and government websites offline. The US and UK suspect Russian hackers behind it. Russia denied the allegations.
Massive cyber attacks by Russia are also feared in Ukraine itself. In the past few weeks, there have been repeated cyber attacks on Ukrainian companies and institutions. "We see disinformation campaigns, we see cyber attacks. We see blatant fake news (false news) being spread about Ukraine and we see increased military activity," Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said in Brussels on Monday.
Cyber protection for Ukraine
Meanwhile, several EU countries announced that they would mobilize their joint cybersecurity unit to support Ukraine. This should help the Ukrainian institutions "in dealing with the growing cyber threats," said Lithuanian Deputy Defense Minister Margiris Abukevicius on Twitter.
The EU Cybersecurity Rapid Response Team was established in 2019 and consists of experts from Estonia, Croatia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania.