Cyber Risk

German infectious disease agency hit by hackers days before arson attack: Spiegel

FILE PHOTO: A broken window is pictured at the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious disease in General-Pape-Strasse, as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak continous, in Berlin, Germany, October 25, 2020. REUTERS/Annegret Hilse

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany’s Robert Koch Institute for infectious disease control was hit by a cyber attack days before its headquarters was the target of an arson attempt, Der Spiegel reported on Wednesday.

The news weekly, citing the Federal Centre for Information Technology, said the website was knocked out for two hours on Oct. 22 by a distributed denial of service attack. No sensitive data was lost.

The red-brick headquarters in Berlin of the institute, which coordinates public health measures to stem the coronavirus pandemic, was the target of a firebomb attack at the weekend that caused superficial damage. Nobody was hurt.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and regional leaders are due to decide whether to reimpose a national lockdown in response to a steep acceleration in infections.

Although most Germans support efforts to curb the pandemic, a sceptical minority including anti-vaccination activists, conspiracy theorists and the political far right, has staged protests.

The Robert Koch Institute declined to comment on the Spiegel report. The Federal Office for Information Security did not immediately respond to a request for comment.