Cyberattacks have hit almost all German companies during past year

Cyber attack

Almost 90 per cent of German companies have been targeted by cyberattacks in recent months, the Bitkom information and telecommunications association reported on Thursday.

It highlighted a rise in cases during this year and last, in which information and production systems were paralysed by extortionists seeking payment to remove blocks.

Data theft, espionage and sabotage had hit almost nine out of 10 companies during the period, Bitkom said.

Damage caused was running at around 220 billion euros (260 billion dollars) per year, more than double that recorded in the years 2018 and 2019, when it was estimated at 103 billion euros per year.

Managers surveyed in the study reported security incidents in 59 per cent of companies where working from home has been an option since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Simply sending staff home is not enough,” Bitkom president Achim Berg said. Their devices have to be secured, communication channels protected and staff made aware of the dangers of cyber crime.

Some 9 per cent of the companies surveyed said their very existence was threatened by cyberattack.

Companies are investing in increased information technology security, with 39 per cent spending somewhat more money, while 24 per cent are spending considerably more.

Alongside staff causing damage either intentionally or unwittingly, companies see part-time hackers as behind 40 per cent of the attacks.

The damage caused by organized crime is continuing to rise and is put at 29 per cent of all attacks.

The most popular method of attack is infecting systems with malware, with 31 per cent of companies subjected to this kind of attack.

This was followed by DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks that swamp company servers with incoming traffic making them unreachable for legitimate business.

Spoofing, the practice of faking identity to gain access to passwords or sensitive data, is also on the rise, with 20 per cent of companies hit this year, up from just 8 per cent in 2019.

In those cases where the target companies could establish the origin of the attacks, 43 per cent identified Germany itself, 37 per cent Eastern Europe, 23 per cent Russia, 30 per cent China and 16 per cent the United States. Just 3 per cent came from other European Union countries.

Berg said he believed that the authorities in certain countries in Eastern Europe, in Russia, in China and in Iran were not taking measures against criminal activity of this kind.

Sinan Selen, the vice president of the German domestic intelligence services (BfV), said the study revealed the importance of an economy resistant to espionage and sabotage.

The shift to working from home had increased the size of the potential target for criminals, he said.

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