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UKRAINE

German finance watchdog sees ‘very big’ risk of cyberattacks

Germany's financial regulator BaFin warned Tuesday of the "very big" risk of cyberattacks targeting the financial sector, a threat it said had become "more likely" since Russia's war on Ukraine.

Cyberattack
A man is trained to deal with a simulated cyberattack. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Roland Weihrauch

 “The risk that companies in the financial sector will fall victim to cyberattacks or that internal IT security incidents will occur is very big and very present,” BaFin president Mark Branson told a press conference.

In extreme cases, “such incidents could damage the stability of the financial system”, he said.

“Are we prepared for a really serious security incident? If we are honest, we don’t know,” Branson added.

Ukraine and its Western allies have been on heightened alert for potential Russian hacking attempts since Moscow invaded its neighbour on February 24th.

The “Five Eyes” intelligence sharing network — consisting of the United States, Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand — warned in April that “evolving intelligence” indicated Russia was planning massive cyberattacks against rivals supporting Ukraine.

The war in Ukraine “has made cyberattacks on the German financial sector more likely,” Branson told reporters in Frankfurt.

The Bafin watchdog is monitoring the situation closely, he said, in cooperation with Germany’s National Cyber Defence Centre. Bafin was also keeping financial firms updated on potential attack patterns, he said.

Last month’s “Five Eyes” alert said Russian state-sponsored cyber actors have the ability to compromise IT networks, to steal large amounts of data from them while remaining hidden, to deploy destructive malware and to lock down networks with “distributed denial of service” attacks.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How Germany is preparing to ward off future cyberattacks

The alert identified more than a dozen hacking groups, both parts of Russian intelligence and military bodies and privately operated, which present threats.

Germany has in recent years repeatedly accused Russia of state-sanctioned hacking efforts.

The most high-profile incident blamed on Russian hackers to date was a cyberattack in 2015 that paralysed the computer network of the lower house of parliament,  the Bundestag, forcing the entire institution offline for days while it was fixed.

Russia denies being behind such activities.

Member comments

  1. Until last year I worked at a major IT solutions provider focused on this topic, and was responsible for offering Disaster and Cyber Incident Protection and Recovery solutions to companies in Germany. I ended up taking on a different role out of frustration, because most German firms (across all industries, not just banking/finance) are uninterested in this topic. The German firms believe:

    – It won’t happen to them (even though it has, and does)
    – Their contracts with offshore IT operations management outsourcing companies will somehow protect them (they don’t)
    – They can buy an insurance policy for less money than actual protection/recovery capabilities, which will protect them financially (insurance companies are refusing to pay out on preventable Cyberattack claims)

    The result is that most German firms are extremely vulnerable to Cyberattack, and some of the largest and well-known firms in Germany might not survive a strong attack.

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UKRAINE

Rapping, breakdancing Ukrainians win Eurovision in musical morale boost

Ukraine won the Eurovision Song Contest Sunday with an infectious hip-hop folk melody, boosting spirits in the embattled nation fighting off a Russian invasion that has killed thousands and displaced millions of people.

Rapping, breakdancing Ukrainians win Eurovision in musical morale boost

Riding a huge wave of public support, Kalush Orchestra beat 24 competitors in the finale of the world’s biggest live music event with “Stefania”, a rap lullaby combining Ukrainian folk and modern hip-hop rhythms.

“Please help Ukraine and Mariupol! Help Azovstal right now,” implored frontman Oleh Psiuk in English from the stage after their performance was met by a cheering audience.

In the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, the triumph was met with smiles and visible relief.

“It’s a small ray of happiness. It’s very important now for us,” said Iryna Vorobey, a 35-year-old businesswoman, adding that the support from Europe was “incredible”.

Following the win, Psiuk — whose bubblegum-pink bucket hat has made him instantly recognisable — thanked everyone who voted for his country in the contest, which is watched by millions of viewers.

“The victory is very important for Ukraine, especially this year. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Glory to Ukraine,” Psiuk told journalists.

Music conquers Europe

The win provided a much-needed morale boost for the embattled nation in its third month of battling much-larger Russian forces.

Mahmood & BLANCO  performing for Italy at Eurovision 2022

Mahmood & BLANCO perform on behalf of Italy during the final of the Eurovision Song contest 2022 in Turin, Italy. (Photo by Marco BERTORELLO / AFP)

“Our courage impresses the world, our music conquers Europe!” he wrote on Facebook.

“This win is so very good for our mood,” Andriy Nemkovych, a 28 year-old project manager, told AFP in Kyiv.

The victory drew praise in unlikely corners, as the deputy chief of the NATO military alliance said it showed just how much public support ex-Soviet Ukraine has in fighting off Moscow.

“I would like to congratulate Ukraine for winning the Eurovision contest,” Mircea Geoana said as he arrived in Berlin for talks that will tackle the alliance’s expansion in the wake of the Kremlin’s war.

“And this is not something I’m making in a light way because we have seen yesterday the immense public support all over Europe and Australia for the bravery of” Ukraine, Geoana said.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the win “a clear reflection of not just your talent, but of the unwavering support for your fight for freedom”.

And European Council President Charles Michel said he hoped next year’s contest “can be hosted in Kyiv in a free and united Ukraine”.

‘Ready to fight’
Despite the joyous theatrics that are a hallmark of the song contest, the war in Ukraine hung heavily over the festivities this year.
 
The European Broadcasting Union, which organises the event, banned Russia on February 25, the day after Moscow invaded its neighbour.
 
“Stefania”, written by Psiuk as a tribute to his mother before the war, mixes traditional Ukrainian folk music played on flute-like instruments with an invigorating hip-hop beat. The band donned richly embroidered ethnic garb
to perform their act.
 
 
Nostalgic lyrics such as “I’ll always find my way home even if all the roads are destroyed” resonated all the more as millions of Ukrainians have been displaced by war.

Kalush Orchestra received special authorisation from Ukraine’s government to attend Eurovision, since men of fighting age are prohibited from leaving the country, but that permit expires in two days.

Psiuk said he was not sure what awaited the band as war rages back home.

“Like every Ukrainian, we are ready to fight as much as we can and go until the end.

Britain’s ‘Space Man’

Ukraine beat a host of over-the-top acts at the kitschy, quirky annual musical event, including Norway’s Subwoolfer, who sang about bananas while dressed in yellow wolf masks, and Serbia’s Konstrakta, who questioned national healthcare while meticulously scrubbing her hands onstage.

Coming in second place was Britain with Sam Ryder’s “Space Man” and its stratospheric notes, followed by Spain with the reggaeton “SloMo” from Chanel.

After a quarter-century of being shut out from the top spot, Britain had hoped to have a winner in “Space Man” and its high notes belted by the affable, long-haired Ryder.

Britain had been ahead after votes were counted from the national juries, but a jaw-dropping 439 points awarded to Ukraine from the public pushed it to the top spot.

Eurovision’s winner is chosen by a cast of music industry professionals — and members of the public — from each country, with votes for one’s home nation not allowed.

Eurovision is a hit among fans not only for the music, but for the looks on display and this year was no exception. Lithuania’s Monika Liu generated as much social media buzz for her bowl cut hairdo as her sensual and elegant
“Sentimentai”.

Other offerings included Greece’s “Die Together” by Amanda Georgiadi Tenfjord and “Brividi” (Shivers), a duet from Italy’s Mahmood and Blanco.

Italy had hoped the gay-themed love song would bring it a second consecutive Eurovision win after last year’s “Zitti e Buoni” (Shut up and Behave) from high-octane glam rockers Maneskin.

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