GERMANY has suffered a major cyber attack on its critical infrastructure and banking systems by Russia, according to German media.
According to German daily BILD, the cyber attack was launched in the past few days. The German newspaper claims that Western intelligence sources confirmed the state-run Russian hackers from the “Fancy Bear” group was behind the attack.
The Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) confirmed the attack to BILD on Wednesday morning.
Several sources told BILD the reason could be revenge for the sanctions policy against Russia and attempts by the Russians to prevent harsh sanctions against Belarus and its dictator Alexander Lukashenko. It was planned to decouple the country from the international payment system Swift.
Again and again, Russia attacks large areas of German infrastructure with its hackers who report to the GRU military intelligence service.
The Bundestag was hacked several times and political data was spied on. Data from the vaccine manufacturer Biontech was stolen from the European drug approval authority (EMA).
The attack comes as German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday that EU talks with Russia would be useful on a number of issues, not least to tell Russian President Vladimir Putin directly that cyber attacks are no basis for a productive relationship.
She said: “Here, I think it is better not only to talk among ourselves but also to confront the Russian president with these things and to say ‘on such a basis a fruitful cooperation cannot take place’.”
European Union leaders last week rejected a Franco-German proposal to hold a summit with Russia after Poland and Baltic countries said it would send the wrong message as East-West ties deteriorate.
Ms Merkel added: “The relationship between Russia and the European Union is really not good at the moment, but even during the Cold War, people talked to each other, so I think silence is not conducive to solving the problems.”
But she added that the EU leaders had identified issues they agreed they wanted to address with Russia and had tasked officials with looking at formats and conditions under which talks with Moscow could go ahead.
She said: “That means we took one step forward but we’re not at our goal yet.”
Beyond EU concerns about Russian influence in Belarus and Ukraine, Ms Merkel listed disarmament and the future of Syria and Libya as issues where the bloc could “sound out with the Russian president whether one can come to joint results.”
On Sunday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey, Vladimir Putin’s top diplomat, denounced the EU in two media outlets – including one-pointedly written in English.
Mr Lavrov wrote: “Without any false modesty, Washington and Brussels called themselves ‘an anchor for democracy, peace and security,’ as opposed to ‘authoritarianism in all its forms’.
“In particular, they proclaimed their intent to use sanctions to ‘support democracy across the globe’.
“European capitals immediately took heed of the Big Brother’s sentiment and picked up the tune with much gusto and relish.
“The gist of their statements is that they are ready to normalise their relations with Moscow, but only after it changes the way it behaves.
“It is as if a choir has been pre-arranged to sing along with the lead vocalist.
“There have been no unilateral concessions since the late 1990s and there never will be.
“If you want to work with us, recover lost profits and business reputations, let us sit down and agree on ways we can meet each other half way in order to find fair solutions and compromises.”
He concluded: “We will always remain open to honest dialogue with anyone who demonstrates a reciprocal readiness to find a balance of interests firmly rooted in international law.
“These are the rules we adhere to.