Last week, Ukraine suffered massive Russian cyberattacks on countless computers. The invading country could then shine the spotlight on Germany.
Cybersecurity companies have observed cyberattacks in Ukraine. They said that these cyber attackers deployed a new data-destroying virus. However, its effects are not yet identified.
Germany is not immune to Russian cyberattacks that could threaten its important infrastructure and business. According to the national intelligence agency, its political and military institutions are also under threat.
“In response to the latest German sanctions and pledges of military assistance, there is a growing risk of Russian cyberattacks against German targets, including
businesses,” the memo to business representatives reads.
Russian cyberattacks in Germany
The agency mentioned an increase in cyberattacks from various groups in cyberspace. Activities have continued to expand since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.
According to the national agency, Ghostwriter has had “recurring recent attacks” against German targets. It is a group of hackers that the Russians would have possessed and which could threaten Germany. These cyber-attackers have the capabilities and tools to significantly and sustainably disrupt these areas.
Additionally, Russia is integrating fake news and misleading information into its military activities. They spread pro-Russian and anti-Western statements and fake news.
The letter also suggests that Russian cyberattacks could be part of this scheme by establishing the so-called “hacking and publishing operations”. Cybercriminals hack online news portals or media and social media accounts of journalists to spread false information.
Viasat suffered Russian cyberattacks
Several Internet users in Europe have encountered difficulties in using their computers, laptops and mobiles. Nearly 9,000 subscribers have no internet connection from its Nordnet subsidiary in France. The loss of service occurred the same day Russia began invading Ukraine.
Viasat claimed that a “cyber event” had caused a “partial network outage” for subscribers in Ukraine and elsewhere in Europe relying on its KA-SAT satellite.
“For several days, shortly after the start of operations, we have had a satellite network which covers Europe and Ukraine in particular, which has been the victim of a cyberattack, with tens of thousands of terminals which have were rendered inoperative immediately after the attack,” said General Michel Friedling, head of France’s Space Command.
On Friday, parent company Eutelsat confirmed that almost a third of Europe’s 40,000 subscribers had experienced a Viasat outage. The countries affected by the interruption are Hungary, Germany, Poland and France.
Additionally, the disconnection affected some 5,800 wind turbines in Germany and central Europe, with a combined output of 11 gigawatts. According to Germany’s Enercon, they had difficulty monitoring and controlling several wind power converters remotely.
Furthermore, this is only possible to a limited extent due to the wide European disruption of the satellite connection. The manufacturer added that there were no problems with the wind turbines and that it continued to supply energy. However, they can no longer reset it remotely if needed.
Cyber specialists and the military fear that the Russian-Ukrainian conflict could lead to outbreaks of cyber attacks. They call it “Cyber Armageddon” with significant consequences not only for Russian and Ukrainian civilians but for the whole world.
Viasat isn’t the only satellite internet service provider operating in Ukraine today with connection problems. Elon Musk has already activated and distributed his Starlink service and has encountered numerous disruption attempts.
The economic impact of German companies
In 2014, Russia invaded Crimea. The resulting penalties reduced the number of German investments in Russia by a third. The number remains below 4,000 by 2020, believing their presence would help connect Russia to the democratic state.
Some companies have decided to pull out and have started to sever business ties. Others try to stay out of loyalty to their workers and employees despite Western sanctions. Businesses are now shrouded in grief and distress.
Major German automakers, such as Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Daimler Truck and Volkswagen, have stopped their exports and production in Russia. ZF Group and Haniel did the same.
“Although our options are limited, we can still have an impact. I understand it is difficult from a customer and supplier relationship perspective, but it is more important that people are protesting in the streets,” said Thomas Schmidt, chief executive of Haniel, in a video statement.
German companies do more business in Russia than in other European countries. It exported more than 26 billion euros worth of goods last year and invested another 25 billion euros in its operations. This agreement on the Russian economy describes the principles of the former West Germany that emerged from the Second World War. Trade could establish peace and prevent Europe from embarking on a new war.
The East German Business Association has also voiced this idea. It is a group of companies that have served as the protagonist for decades. Moreover, it fosters deeper economic ties with Moscow, regardless of President Vladimir V. Putin’s undemocratic moves.
Supposedly, the group will celebrate its 70th anniversary this year. Many of its members had a scheduled meeting with Putin last week. However, they canceled the meeting due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
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