World news

Sabotage and cyberattacks: Germany potentially favored target



The lights are red on the side of the German authorities. A month ago, the country was indeed targeted by two acts of sabotage in less than a week. At the end of September, the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines which connect it to Russia were victims of explosions in the Baltic Sea.

1er October, the railway network was paralyzed for several hours in the north of the country after the cutting of cables in two separate places. Since then, the question of improving the security of strategic infrastructures in Germany has arisen.

Threat to infrastructure

“This war shows that infrastructure is an important target and can potentially be attacked,” noted Transport Minister Volker Wissing, who announced the establishment of a coordination unit. Ditto within the Ministry of the Interior, which wishes to better structure the work of the various ministers in this area. The army claims to be preparing for “hybrid threats”.

As for the ecologists, one of the three parties in the government coalition, they list three priorities: invest more to protect critical infrastructure, better equip civil protection services and raise the level of police attention.

Hit twice, is Germany particularly vulnerable? No, says André Glenzer, expert for the security of critical infrastructures with the consulting firm PwC. “Germany is one of the pioneers of cybersecurity”, he believes, praising the country’s legislation. “This advance benefits him in the current geopolitical situation”, he judges, even if he notes that the country has a “surprisingly negative view of its own cybersecurity”.

Awareness

Several cyberattacks against the Bundestag, the federal parliament, in 2015 helped raise awareness. “It was a turning point for the authorities, who reacted relatively well for a country where bureaucracy is so heavy,” notes Samuel Forsythe of the Frankfurt Institute for Peace and Conflict Research. “The country has also realized that attacks by the malware (malicious software, editor’s note) could cripple its economy. »

His colleague Mischa Hansel, of the Institute for Peace and Security Policy Research in Hamburg (IFSH), lists a series of weak points on the part of Germany, including “its federal structure”which multiplies skill levels. “We have seen local actors overwhelmed in certain situations. Coordination and communication are therefore essential. The idea of ​​setting up a group of volunteer telecommunications experts who would be able to react anywhere on the territory in the event of a cyberattack is moving forward in people’s minds. »

Germany target of choice

Its support for Ukraine could make Germany a particularly popular target for saboteurs, adds Mischa Hansel, who hypothesizes a “change of strategy” Russian authorities aiming to carry out operations in countries where support is strong. “This is the case of Germany. The aim would be to create insecurity and make the population doubt. »

Its position as a geographical crossroads within Europe also makes this country a target of choice. The city of Frankfurt, for example, has the largest internet exchange point in Europe. “The war in Ukraine has proven how interconnected European economies and nations are, notes André Glenzer. A successful cyberattack against large critical infrastructure of a major industrial nation could have consequences for all European citizens. »

For example creating situations of traffic chaos, power outages, bottlenecks in deliveries. And the expert to wish for awareness on a European scale: “These risks should clearly motivate us Europeans to act more together to secure our critical infrastructures. »



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