German intelligence blames Russia, China for cyberattacks


A German intelligence service identified some familiar cyber enemies in its annual report, released Tuesday.

The Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz, somewhat akin to the FBI counterterrorism unit, says Russia and China were the leading sources of cyberattacks on Germany.

{mosads}The two countries are historically believed to be behind a majority of cyberattacks in the United States.

“The German government is willing to call out other intelligence agencies in a way that is very rare, behind maybe only the United States,” said Thomas Rid, a professor in security studies at King’s College London and author of the just-released Rise of The Machines. 

The German intelligence service also claimed to have detected Iranian information security threats for the first time. The report says the Iranian attack may have hit countless unidentified victims.

An English-language summary of the report claims Russian hackers were primarily motivated by conflict with the Ukraine, attempting to get inside access to politicians opinions. The German-language report noted that Russia organized large-scale social media and Internet forum operations to post pro-Russian comments to drown out negative opinions.

The Chinese attacks were a little bit broader, according to the English supplement. They focused on industrial espionage and a broad range of political interests, including German support for ethnic, religious and pro-democratic groups in China such as the Uighurs, Tibetans, Falun Gong and proponents of an independent Taiwan.


On Tuesday, Assistant Attorney General John Carlin said he expected that sanctions would become a more commonplace response to states engaged in hacking. 


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