Germany sees big rise in security problems affecting infrastructure

FILE PHOTO - A German flag is seen on the laptop screen in front of a computer screen on which cyber code is displayed, in this illustration picture taken March 2, 2018. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/Illustration

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany has experienced a big increase in the number of security incidents hitting critical infrastructure such as power grids and water suppliers, the BSI cybersecurity agency said on Sunday, adding however that they were not all due to hacking.

The Welt am Sonntag weekly had reported on Sunday that Germany had learned of 157 hacker attacks on critical infrastructure companies in the second half of 2018 compared to 145 attacks in the whole of the previous year.

“The number of reports of IT security incidents has increased but it is not to be equated with the number of cyber attacks,” tweeted the BSI in response to the newspaper report.

“Reports are also made for other reasons such as technical problems,” it added.

The attacks were aimed at sabotaging power supplies and manipulating water supplies or disrupting communications lines, the paper said, adding security authorities suspected foreign intelligence agencies were behind such attacks.

German and European authorities have become increasingly worried about the risk of security breaches in infrastructure as well as interference in elections especially from Russia, China and far-right groups.

Germany is currently trying to decide how to safeguard its next generation 5G network and whether to exclude products from China’s Huawei Technologies.

The group faces international scrutiny over its ties to the Chinese government and suspicion Beijing could use its technology for spying. Huawei denies this.

Reporting by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Jane Merriman and Hugh Lawson