Germany is serious about spying and cyber attacks from foreign countries, describing it as "ticking time bombs" that could disrupt critical infrastructure and even pose a danger to national sovereignty.
Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz (BfV), the domestic intelligence service of the Federal Republic of Germany, has published details of cyber attacks on the country in its 339-page annual report. The dossier highlighted how cyber espionage costs billions of euros to German industry every year and security threats.
"The consequences for our country range from weakened negotiating positions to high material costs and economic damage all the way to impairment of national sovereignty," said the report, obtained by Reuters. It cited increase of spying activities by Turkey's MIT foreign intelligence agency last year after the failed coup in the country, and Russia trying to influence the parliamentary election.
The report said cyber attacks not only destroy information but also triggers "silent, ticking digital time bombs" that has the potential to manipulate data and sabotage critical infrastructure. It has named Russia, China and Iran as the main countries that spy on Germany.
It said that hacker group APT 28, which is believed to be controlled by Russian government, has been attacking Germany ever since the European Union imposed economic sanctions on Moscow over its action in Ukraine. Trolls have been used to manipulate public opinion through pro-Russian views.
"It is assumed that Russian state agencies are trying to influence parties, politicians and public opinion, with a particular eye to the 2017 parliamentary election," said the report.
It went on to say that Iran was focused on "Israeli or pro-Jewish targets and political opponents of Tehran's clerical rulers," while Chinese espionage targets political events and Chinese government critics.
Meanwhile, Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere has said the government is working on protecting the German firms, especially economics ministries, military, space and research institutes that have been affected the most.