German firms see rising Chinese cyber attacks

German companies are registering ever more cyberattacks from Chinese hackers, according to a story on Sunday in Der Spiegel magazine.

German firms see rising Chinese cyber attacks
Photo: DPA

A few months ago the European aerospace company EADS was on the receiving end of “a significant” attack, according to company sources. Officially the company acknowledged the attack, but did not say it was serious and kept quiet about possible damages.

The incident was so serious, however, that the company reported it to the German government, the magazine reported.

Industrial giant ThyssenKrupp also reported a “massive” attack in the middle of 2012, which it confirmed to the magazine. The company said the attackers’ addresses were Chinese. Bayer and IBM were also subjects of cyber attacks.

The German government recorded nearly 1,100 digital attacks from foreign intelligence agencies last year. Most were directed toward the chancellery, the foreign and economics ministries and were in the form of emails with Trojan-containing attachments.

Ahead of the G-20 summit hacker activity was especially intensive against the German delegation and was particularly directed at financial and energy policies. The Green party was also attacked, Der Spiegel reported.

Germany’s foreign intelligence agency, the BND, is planning to create a new subdivision to concentrate on cyber attackers. Government-employed hackers will be charged with infiltrating foreign computer systems and disabling them.

The German government is planning to require companies in Germany to report cyber attacks. Similar legislation is in the works in the European Union and in the United States, the magazine said. Deutsche Telekom is in full support of the reporting requirement.

Several US newspapers, including the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal have recently reported about cyber attacks from China. The US government has announced trade sanctions as a response to the attacks.

In extreme cases Washington reserves the right to use conventional arms to combat the problem and has made fighting cyber crimes and internet espionage a top priority.

Recently Microsoft, Facebook, Apple and Twitter announced that unknown perpetrators had gained access to their companies’ internal networks.

Twitter said hackers were able to copy a quarter of a million customer records. The trail to the perpetrators apparently leads to Eastern Europe, the magazine said.

The Local/mw

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