ef. End of November, in time for the 60th anniversary of the “Bundesnachrichten Dienst” BND (German Federal Intelligence Service), an interview with the new BND chief Bruno Kahl in the German newspaper “Süddeutsche Zeitung” of 28.11.2016 made the round: “BND president warns on cyber-attacks from Russia”. The US election campaign had been influenced by hackers and trolls – the trail leads to Russia, according to US security authorities. The new BND chief confirmed that there was “‘evidence’ for a trail to Russia”. In the interview, he said: “The attribution to a state actor is technically difficult. But there is some evidence that this is at least tolerated or desired by the state.” Bruno Kahl sees this danger also for the coming election year in Germany. Russia could make cyber-attacks at the 2017 “Bundestag” elections.
The IT security expert Guido Rudolphi from Uster (Switzerland) found clarifying words in an interview with the Swiss “Tages-Anzeiger” of 29.11.2016. According to the IT security expert, the warning of the BND chief on possible Russian cyber-attacks against Germany “is absolute nonsense. Mr Kahl is speaking about cheap propaganda; look who is talking. Because that is exactly what he does.” When asked if Russia could make cyber-attacks, he said, “It would be possible. It would also be possible that the Swiss, the Americans or any hackers from Timbuktu could do that. However, I wonder how the BND boss’s mission is defined to be able to make such statements without evidence.” He also clarified the hacked e-mails of Hillary Clinton’s electoral campaigners: “This electoral champion had a password that today no kindergardener would use. Here, too, no evidence is presented to the Russians. Something is simply claimed, and that fits into a global mood. Just a few years ago it was always the North Koreans, then it was the Chinese, and now it is the Russians. Obviously, the assessment of cyber threats is always very dependent on how the political weather is. It’s just embarrassing.”
To the Cassandra calls of the cyber-attacks and whether you can protect yourself from it, the IT security expert explains: “Basically, there is no security in IT. Security in IT is a marketing concept and nothing else. And if we are aware of this, we need to think about what data we store where and how.” Most politicians, however, did not care. Political cyber war is typically done “by claiming cyber-attacks without evidence”; in fact “there is no evidence that a cyber war takes place. And that is just happening”.
Last week, when 900,000 customers of “Deutsche Telekom” in Germany lost Internet, telephone or TV connections, it quickly became clear that this was a targeted attack on “Telekom” and even a targeted attack on Germany’s public communications structure. Manfred Kloiber of the German news radio station Deutschlandfunk said on 3 December 2016: “Let’s first note: it was not a targeted attack on the ‘Telekom’. And it was not a targeted attack on our country’s public communications infrastructure. […] Rather, it was the failed attempt by computer criminals. […] It is apparent that in the case of 900,000 customers of ‘Deutsche Telekom’, the Internet, telephone or TV connection was lost only due to the fact that the used routers of the ‘Telekom were simply cheap and badly programmed. […] Just a few hours after the incident became known, wild speculation circulated over a state attack on our infrastructure. Russian intelligence agencies were suspected of being the originators, yes, the cyber war broke out. […] And ‘Deutsche Telekom’ boss Höttges has already called for a cyber-Nato.” This is just cheap propaganda. •
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