E.in a hacker attack on the district of Anhalt-Bitterfeld triggered the first cyber disaster in Germany. According to its own statements, the administration of the district in Saxony-Anhalt has to cease its work for almost two weeks because criminals attacked the computer system on July 6th. “We are practically completely paralyzed – and that will also be the case in the coming week,” said a spokesman on Saturday. The district with around 157,000 inhabitants can therefore no longer pay out any social or maintenance benefits. The security authorities are investigating.
The disaster was declared in order to be able to react more quickly, as the district spokesman explained. The Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) announced on Saturday that it was switched on and on site. “There have already been attacks on municipalities in Germany, but none that then declared a disaster,” said a spokeswoman.
Old software in communes
In security circles, it is pointed out that the municipal IT infrastructure in Germany is probably the worst protected against cyber attacks – even though a lot of citizen data is generated here. Large companies and the federal government, on the other hand, can afford extensive IT departments.
The BSI has a national cyber defense center that is primarily intended to register and ward off attacks on the federal administration. Companies in the so-called critical infrastructure, such as energy supply, are also required to report cyber attacks. Municipalities sometimes have outdated software and hardware and only small IT departments.
The district of Anhalt-Bitterfeld did not want to provide any information about the attackers with reference to the police investigations. In security circles it is suspected that it is again blackmail. In such cases, attackers encrypt data, which they only release after payment of the required sum.
In the past few months, attacks by criminal groups on networks had increased on both companies and public institutions. For example, medical companies and the Düsseldorf Clinic were attacked, which then had to temporarily close departments. Just last week, a cyber attack by a blackmail group in the USA and other countries such as Germany hit hundreds of companies. In some cases, state actors are also suspected to be behind the criminal groups.