Federal Office for Information Security (BSI)

BSI Magazine

Editorial BSI Magazine 2017/01

Anchoring a message in the public mind is both a challenging and complex task. This is especially the case when something experts consider to be vital, but which the general public, business and public administration view as marginal, is concerned. The message of how important cyber security is has often gone unnoticed due to the latter view, which encouraged us to ignore the warnings regarding safety in the digital realms.

But times have changed. Since hospitals, power stations and telecommunications providers have been hacked and blackmailed, the Bundestag and political parties have become targets of attacks and the US intelligence services have reported interference in the US election by the Russian government, the issue of cyber security has now entered the consciousness of the public at large.

Important elections coming up soon throughout Europe, including in Germany. This is reason enough to be concerned about the targeted manipulation of public opinion by third parties, especially regarding campaigning in the 2017 Bundestag elections. Together with other European security authorities, the BSI is therefore attempting to prevent potential cyber attacks in the upcoming elections. The defence capabilities of governmental networks are continuously optimised.

The threat from professional and suspected state-sponsored cyber attacks is high. As can be read in our current status report, around 44,000 infected emails were found in government networks before they were able to reach recipients’ inboxes. This represents a fourfold increase over the previous year. Around 20 highly professional attacks occur daily on government networks. But it is not only the attack itself that represents a hazard – much worse are the political dimension and the effect of these attacks. The attacks do not even need to succeed. They need only sow doubt that the outcome of a democratic election, rather than being the result of the ballot box, has been decided by a team of hackers, state-sponsored or otherwise.

Therefore public awareness of the importance of cyber security cannot be stressed enough. We must take this opportunity to increase security. We need to keep providing information that is publicly effective, and we need to show how we are successfully enhancing Germany's capacity to repel any type of cyber threat. The BSI, as the national cyber security authority, is taking a decisive role in this.

I hope you will fi nd the articles informative and stimulating.

Arne Schönbohm,
President of the Federal Office
for Information Security (BSI)