Germany recognizes the threat posed from cyberattacks and on April 1 launched its latest venture to combat cyberthreats. Cyber and Information Space Command will become the sixth branch of the German military and will operate on the same level as the army, air force and navy. Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen appointed Lt. Gen. Ludwig Leinhos to be Germany’s first cyber general. Leinhos will eventually head a team of 13,500 computer specialists, many of whom are already employed by the Bundeswehr in various locations. Yesterday was the new team’s first day of work.
In a recent interview with Bild, Leinhos explained how a wartime cyberattack would be catastrophic. Spying, he said, is actually one of the more minor security concerns. More serious cyberattacks could disrupt entire facilities, paralyze and destroy infrastructure, and even threaten lives. The Bundeswehr knows that cybersecurity plays an ever greater role in Germany and might even become more important than having the most high-tech military equipment—the best fighter jets in the world are worthless if they cannot fly.
As many sectors in society today digitalize, the threat of cyberattacks has significantly increased. The German Bundeswehr recognizes this danger. In just the first nine weeks of this year, 284,000 attacks were aimed at Bundeswehr computers. Though not all of these attacks were considered a serious threat, the danger is real. Deutsche Welle reported on April 1:
Future cyberattacks are to be fended off by the new “Cyber and Information Space Command” (cir), which will become operational on April 1. The command will have its own independent organizational structure, thus becoming the sixth branch of the German military—on a par with the army, navy, air force, joint medical service and joint support service. Although other countries, such as the U.S.A., set up cyber commands long ago, the Bundeswehr now sees itself “at the international forefront.”
For this to become reality, von der Leyen founded a cyber research center at the Bundeswehr University in Munich. According to the Berlin Ministry of Defense, up to 80 percent of military-relevant new developments are now taking place in the cyber area. The so-called “Cyber Innovation Hub” is meant to combine the resources of the Bundeswehr with the ingenuity of the start-up scene. Spiegel Online reported (Trumpet translation):
[Cyber entrepreneur Marcel] Yon and his people will do what the Bundeswehr is unable to do: search for interesting innovations, “conduct studies, pilot projects, contest ideas, etc for the validation of technologies,” as it is said in an internal paper from the ministry, and even serve as an “initiator or contracting authority for (further) developments of disruptive technologies.”
The hardest challenge the Bundeswehr faces is to make a job in the army attractive to cybernerds, though it is finding ways to attract employees. In 2016, the Bundeswehr hired 60 percent more computer scientists than it hired in 2015, thanks largely to successful public relations campaigns and offering generous benefits. Von der Leyen and her team want the best of the best and want to make Germany a world leader in cybersecurity, even capable of engaging in offensive cyber warfare . For more on how offensive cyberattacks will play a role in the future, read “Germany Thinks Cyber .”
History shows that no weapon has been created that was not used. Although Germany appears to be developing its cyber abilities for defensive purposes, developing this capacity puts it in a position to engage offensively—and this is something to be concerned about.
Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry warned in 2005 that a cyberattack is America’s greatest weakness. In his article “America’s Achilles Heel—and Germany ,” he wrote:
I believe one key end-time Bible prophecy could well be fulfilled through the kind of cyberterrorism Mr. de Courcy described: “They have blown the trumpet, even to make all ready; but none goeth to the battle: for my wrath is upon all the multitude thereof” (Ezekiel 7:14). The trumpet of war is to be blown in Israel—mainly America and Britain. … It seems everybody is expecting our people to go into battle, but the greatest tragedy imaginable occurs! Nobody goes to battle—even though the trumpet is blown! Will it be because of computer terrorism?
Germany is again on the rise, and almost nobody is watching. Have we forgotten what happened in two world wars? ▪