16:47 GMT25 September 2020
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    It has been claimed that German military computers suffered almost 300,000 cyberattacks in the first two months of 2017, following the launch of the country's dedicated cybersecurity protection unit which may be used to carry out offensive actions against enemy states.

    Ludwig Leinhos, chief of the new division, said in future wars would be won and lost online.

    "From hacker attacks to state attacks, we must be prepared for everything. In the first nine weeks of this year alone, Bundeswehr computers were attacked more than 284,000 times," Leinhos told local media.

    He did not specify what sort of cyberattacks had hit the sensitive networks, although a Bundeswehr spokesperson subsequently said no classified material had been compromised in the alleged attacks.

    A man types on a computer keyboard
    © REUTERS / Kacper Pempel/Files

    His comments follow the hijacking of high-profile Dutch and German Twitter accounts, where hackers expressed their support for the Turkish government with pictures of the swastika and hashtags that read #NaziGermany and #NaziHolland, as well as videos with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's speeches.

    Based in Bonn, western Germany, Leinhos' team will initially be comprised of around 250 personnel, with numbers expected to grow to as much as 13,500 by mid-2017, as other branches of the military, including the strategic reconnaissance command, become involved. Moreover, the division could be weaponized to carry out offensive cyber operations.

    Any full-scale cyberattacks abroad would need parliamentary approval, while security of national and government IT systems remains the responsibility of the German Interior Ministry, which oversees the security agencies in charge of counterespionage.

    "The expansion of cyber capabilities is an essential contribution to the government's overall security posture," a military spokesperson said in a statement.

    In a 2016 attack, hackers launched a phishing scheme targeting political parties in Germany, using emails designed to resemble official NATO addresses. In March 2017, Germany's Federal Information Security Office said the lower house of parliament had repelled a serious cyberattack on computers belonging to all factions, and 10 individual lawmakers.

    Chancellor Angela Merkel has said dealing with cyberattacks has become a "daily task" for authorities, and warned they may be used to influence the upcoming election in September.

    She has also acknowledged Germany is only just beginning to effectively combat cyberthreats.

    Many European and world leaders have expressed concerns about Russian cyberattacks targeted at election campaigns, politicians and government institutions, although have been unable to provide any evidence to support these allegations.

    UK Prime Minister Theresa May has appointed a Minister for Anti-Subversion, despite UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson saying the government as yet had no basis for believing Russia was  attempting to undermine the UK "democratic process."

    Dmitry Peskov, a spokesperson for the Kremlin, has called all such allegations "baseless."

    "These are allegations substantiated with nothing, done on a rather amateurish, emotional level. We still don't know what data is really being used by those who present such unfounded accusations," he said.

    In an ironic twist, Kaspersky Lab — a Russian computer security firm — in 2016, unraveled a global cyberespionage campaign which may have been in existence for nearly a decade and compromised more than 350 computer systems in 40 countries, including users and organizations in Mongolia, Russia, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Tajikistan, South Korea, Spain and Germany.

    John McAfee, technology pioneer and founder of the renowned McAfee web security firm has previously told Sputnik there was no way Russia was behind any of the high-profile cyberattacks for which it has been blamed.

    "I can promise you it was not the Russians who hacked the Democratic National Committee. The software used was way too old…one of the things I've been saying for years is it is virtually impossible to find attribution for any hack because a good hacker can hide their tracks plus make it look like someone else did it. This happens all the time."


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    hacking allegations, cyber espionage, snooping, cyberattack, intelligence, cybersecurity, military, hacking, Bundeswehr, Ludwig Leinhos, Angela Merkel, Germany, Europe, Russia, West
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