After hackers infiltrated the German Parliament’s computer network in May 2015, it took nearly a year before the country’s intelligence agency concluded that the attack was most likely the work of their Russian counterparts. Last week, when 900,000 Germans lost access to internet and telephone services, it took a matter of hours before politicians began pointing fingers at Moscow. Berlin is now concerned that Germany will become the next focus of Moscow’s campaign to destabilize Western democracies as national elections approach next year. Those fears intensified after the Obama administration accused the Russian government of attacking Democratic Party emails during the American presidential campaign.
The increasing dissemination of false news, disinformation and propaganda during the American campaign and before Italy’s referendum last weekend has added a related layer of worry about the potential to corrupt public debate and democratic processes.
Hans-Georg Maassen, the head of Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, warned in an interview on Thursday of “growing evidence for attempts to influence the federal election next year.”
His agency has seen an increase in “aggressive cyberespionage” targeting German politicians, he said.