Home Europe Espionage and cyberattack threat reaches new dimension in Germany, interior minister warns

Espionage and cyberattack threat reaches new dimension in Germany, interior minister warns

by editor

German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser has warned of increasing espionage and cyber threats from foreign adversaries including Russia, China and Iran.

“The threat to our democracy from espionage, sabotage, disinformation and cyberattacks has reached a new dimension,” Interior Minister Nancy Faeser told reporters in Berlin as she presented the 2023 report on the protection of the constitution, which provides information on the nature and scope of anti-constitutional developments, such as activities from far-right, far-left and Islamists groups.

Russia adjusted its intelligence strategy following the expulsion of its diplomats from Germany in 2023, Faeser said. The Kremlin is now focused on espionage while also conducting cyberattacks and disinformation campaigns against Berlin.

“A far-reaching cyberattack campaign in 2023 was directed against high-value targets in business and politics, including the SPD party executive committee,” Thomas Haldenwang, the president of the office for the protection of the constitution, the country’s domestic intelligence agency, said. “This attack has since been attributed to the APT 28 group, which is controlled by the Russian military intelligence service.”

The activities of Iran’s intelligence services in Germany focused on surveillance of Iranian opposition groups and individuals following widespread protests against the regime last year, the report said.

While the observation of people in exile was also a key goal of Chinese intelligence spying on Germany, Beijing focused its espionage activities on information gathering in the fields of research, business and politics as well, the report said.

Domestically, the threat coming from extremists rose too, the report said.

Criminal offenses committed by extremists rose to 39,433 in 2023, reaching an all-time high, the report said.

The number of extremists on the right had risen by almost 2,000 to 40,600 in 2023, while the number of left-leaning extremists rose by 500 to a total of 37,000 people, per the report.

The potential number of individuals tied to the threat of Islamist terrorism was nearly unchanged at 27,200, the report said. However, the report found that the threat of Islamist terrorism itself had increased following the Oct. 7 attack on Israel by Hamas and other Gaza-based militant groups and the ensuing war in the enclave.

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