CYBER SECURITY Defense Ministry Backs Cyber Reprisals

As the German military’s new cyber warfare command comes online in Bonn, the defense minister is calling for a proactive approach to cyber security.
A Bundeswehr soldier's beret shows the insignia of the CIR. Picture source: Reuters

Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen has said the military, known as the Bundeswehr in Germany, can respond to cyber attacks with offensive operations.

"If the networks of the Bundeswehr are attacked, then we can also fight back," the center-right politician said on Wednesday at the opening of the Bundeswehr’s Cyber and Information Space Command (CIR) in Bonn. "As soon as an attack threatens the functional and operational capacity of the armed forces, we can also defend ourselves offensively."

Members of the Bundestag, Germany’s parliament, had been pushing to require their vote to approve cyber attack missions.

"In the case of foreign missions, the situation is clear. Here, the Bundestag determines the possibilities and limits, which also applies to cyberspace, of course," Ms. von der Leyen stressed.

But some parliamentarians are demanding legal clarifications.

"There I see a considerable need for statutory action," Rainer Arnold of the center-left Social Democrats said, calling for a decision in the next coalition agreement.

One of the main tasks of the CIR will be the operation and protection of the Bundeswehr’s IT, which is one of the largest computer networks in Germany and attracts both private hackers as well as hackers from other governments. In the first two months of this year alone, Bundeswehr computers were the targets of more than 280,000 cyber attacks, the minister said.