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Germany’s military, the Bundeswehr, presents a high-value target for hackers and foreign spy agencies – not only because of its military secrets, but also due to its IT-supported weapons systems. If hackers were ever to gain control of them, the results could be devastating.
Since the start of 2017, according to dw.com, the Bundeswehr’s network was attacked around 284,000 times. It’s also been affected by targeted disinformation campaigns online. In response, the German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen from the ruling Christian Democrats views attacks from cyberspace as, “a growing threat to our security” and has begun promoting the new “Cyber and Information Space Command” (CIR), which became operational on April 1. The command will have its own independent organizational structure, becoming the sixth branch of the German military. While other countries, such as the USA, set up cyber command’s long ago, the Bundeswehr now sees itself “at the international forefront.”
Although In the past, the fast pace of hardware and software innovation has proven incompatible with the protracted tempo of the Bundeswehr’s procurement process, IT specialists are now in unanimous agreement: the Bundeswehr must become more flexible. The cyber command’s first inspector, Air Force General Ludwig Leinhos, has been given the mission to ensure what is known as “agility” in the IT sector – the ability to quickly adjust to changes.
Leinhos is familiar with the task: he is a cyber warfare specialist and was responsible for “Cyber Defense” at NATO’s Brussels headquarters until early 2016. But a team is only as good as its personnel. The Bundeswehr is therefore counting on bringing in people from the private sector and other branches of its military, as well as those studying at the army’s Bundeswehr University in Munich – where it has founded a “Cyber Cluster.”
On April 5, Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen assembled the new cyber command for a celebratory installation in Bonn – initially the unit will consist of 260 members, who will, nevertheless, have to wait for their new building be completed before being able to move in for good. The unit is to be at full strength, and the Bundeswehr completely capable of comprehensive defense in cyberspace, by 2021.