The threat posed by cyber attacks has grown significantly in Germany. This emerges from the 2021 management report of the Federal Office for Information Security, which was published on Thursday.
On October 21, the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) published the current status report for the IT security for the year 2021. The current situation is assessed as “tense to critical”, a deterioration compared to the previous year. In last year’s report, the BSI only classified the situation as “tense”.
In some areas there is already a “red alert”, says BSI President Arne Schönbohm. The reasons for this are the clear professionalization of cyber criminals, increasing digital networking and the spread of serious weaknesses in I.T products.
IT security as a central theme
“Information security must have a significantly higher priority and become the basis of all digitization projects,” says the report. But are the federal government and its authorities properly positioned for this?
The outgoing Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU), who reports to the BSI, does not want to answer directly to the question of whether there should be a federal digital ministry in the future. To the address of the future coalition partners, he only says that “it will not be possible to separate general security from cybersecurity”.
According to the BSI, criminals now use very complex, multi-stage attack strategies that were previously only used in cyber espionage.
One method: While a criminal hacker is negotiating a ransom with his victim for access to data he has encrypted, another is simultaneously publishing data stolen on so-called leak pages in order to intimidate the victim even more.
The number of new malware programs is increasing rapidly
According to this, some attackers also approach customers or partners of the person concerned in order to increase the pressure. As an example, the BSI cites the case of a psychotherapeutic practice in its report, where not only the practice owners but also their patients were blackmailed.
In this context, the authority warns all those affected to report attacks as quickly as possible in order to avoid further damage.
According to the BSI, the number of registered new variants of malware was 144 million, 22 percent more than in the previous reporting period.
According to the Federal Office, a new negative peak value was reached in February 2021: 553,000 different malware variants on a single day.
Damage caused by cyber attacks has increased massively
According to the report, a large number of attacks were recorded between January and May in which the blackmailers pretended to have video material of the victim allegedly showing it while visiting a website with pornographic content.
The threat: If the victim does not pay a four-digit euro amount in Bitcoin, the compromising video will be sent to all contacts of the victim.
“The damage caused by extortion, combined with the failure of systems or the disruption of operational processes, has risen by 358 percent since 2019,” says Susanne Dehmel, member of the executive board of the Bitkom industry association.
So that companies and private individuals can protect themselves better, everyone should have the opportunity to find out about the current cyber threat situation. “To do this, we have to use real-time information and collect it across the EU in a central dashboard – similar to the Corona dashboard of the Robert Koch Institute.”
Experts are also observing an increasing number of phishing attempts via short messages. Fraudsters are constantly trying to get hold of personal data using new methods. You can find out here how to recognize such attempted fraud via SMS and how to proceed in an emergency.