Germany Seeks to Heighten Cyber Defences Ahead of a Critical European Parliament Election in May

Germany Seeks to Heighten Cyber Defences Ahead of a Critical European Parliament Election in May



  26 Jan 2019   0

A 20-year-old student hacked and leaked critical information about approximately 1,000 people in Europe with the intent to sell the information on the dark web. The youngster showed how vulnerable cybersecurity systems in Europe have become and has raised concern as to whether people’s information is safe.

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The unnamed student lived with his parents and did all the hacking in his bedroom, where he obtained numerous home addresses, private mobile numbers, photographs, private chats, and other personal details. The head of BKA Federal Criminal Police Holger Muench says that if such a young man could be such a threat to cybersecurity, then other people are capable of a similar or even greater crime.

He adds that professional hackers have quite a number of ways and resources to get around security systems. This is evidenced by the youngster’s case in which he was able to obtain access to vital personal documents of politicians such as Chancellor Merkel and other high-profile persons.

German authorities are in a rush to heighten cybersecurity as a result of this past event, especially since the European Parliamentary election is to be held in May. The authorities want to ensure that there will be no loopholes for manipulation of the election results by foreign or ultra-conservative forces.

Such events need to be resolved and their future recurrence prevented in order to save Europe’s strongest economy. Officials continue to raise awareness concerning hacking and cybersecurity systems ahead of the forthcoming Parliamentary election.

The young man confessed to hacking government officials’ and civilians’ information. Sources also state that some of the passwords he used had been purchased from the dark web.

The youngster was well known to German authorities for previous attempts he had made to obtain private data in 2017 illegally but was yet to be convicted until now. They could, however, not put him under surveillance then as stated by Chief Muench of BKA, since such crimes were as common as petty theft and the offender was at a young age.

Horst Seehofer, the Interior Minister, says preventive measures have to be taken to improve security. He outlined several plans to this effect including hiring hundreds of cyber experts to work for the BSI cybersecurity agency and the federal police force.

Warning systems should also be set up to monitor and detect cyber attacks. In addition, the government should update current laws on security to ensure that citizens and industries are better protected.

Politicians and the general public should also undergo training in cyber security, such as how to set up stronger passwords since most of the ones people use are easy to crack. The federal criminal police and BSI convened with lawmakers to discuss the cyber attack and put up better security measures.

German politicians have blamed cybersecurity agencies for not having detected the security breach earlier and preventing it from happening. In their defense, the BSI says that a lawmaker contacted them early in December to report suspicious activities noted in their email and other social media accounts.

Four other similar cases were reported in 2018, but they appeared to be isolated as explained by Arne Schoenbohm, the current BSI Chief. The BSI was, therefore, unable to fully react to the reports until the breach reached the great extent it did.

This case of an attack on government networks is among similar cases that have been repeatedly experienced in Germany over recent years. In 2015, an attack was carried out on the Bundestag House of Parliament by a Russian hacking group known as the APT28, leading to the loss of more than 10GB data, including emails.

Last year the Foreign Ministry also experienced a cyber attack, although there is very little information that has been released concerning the attack. These happenings have been attributed to the use of private mobile phones that don’t offer proper security and lack of the use of complex passwords.

Cyber experts state that politicians also work in local districts where security is very lax, making them quite vulnerable. Slow detection and sharing of data due to the widely divided responsibilities of federal ministries and agencies make prevention even harder.

Other Western countries that have suffered such attacks on high-profile individuals include France, wherein 2017, a large amount of data was leaked on the eve of President Emmanuel Macron’s election. Large amounts of data were also stolen from Democrats’ networks just before the presidential elections in the U.S., but efforts to prevent such events continue to be made, and other plans for further protection are underway.

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Source: TheOnionWeb

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