Industrial espionage in Germany: the home office becomes a risk trap – politics


In the corona crisis, working from home is apparently not only an opportunity for many companies, but also a risk. The target area for industrial espionage by foreign intelligence services and other actors “has become wider”, warned Volker Wagner, Chairman of the Federal Association of the Alliance for Security in Business (ASW) on Wednesday at the joint, virtual 14th security conference with the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) . Its Vice President Sinan Selen spoke of “issues” in which mobile IT was used as an element for attacks. Mobile IT includes laptops, among other things.

“Home office is an attack sector that we need to keep an eye on,” said Selen. The activities of opposing intelligence services had “increased significantly” in the Corona year. In view of the espionage risk, Wagner criticized, “It is frightening how long it takes some companies to install software updates”. However, particularly security-sensitive companies do not work from home. “You don’t know who is accessing it at home, the risk is far too high,” said Roland Feil, Managing Director of Dallmeier Systems. The company deals with video security projects.

The smaller the company, the greater the risk of attack

Small companies in particular have major problems protecting themselves from industrial espionage, even without Corona. At the conference, reference was made to start-ups whose innovative products are extremely interesting for competitors in China and other countries. But start-ups often have only a few employees and not enough money to arm themselves against espionage. Michael Kilchling from the Max Planck Institute said there was little scope for “technical preventive measures”. He summed up the dilemma as follows: “the smaller a company, the greater the possibility that it will be successfully attacked”.
The German Association for Information Technology, Telecommunications and New Media (Bitkom) put the damage that the German economy suffers from espionage and sabotage at more than 100 billion euros in 2019. The ASW chairman Wagner now also described a critical situation. “Nine out of ten companies state that they have been affected by attacks.” One focus is currently espionage attacks on manufacturers of vaccines to protect against the coronavirus. “We have to assume that everyone is keen on information,” said Wagner.

The Office for the Protection of the Constitution warns against the “privatization” of espionage

Industrial espionage is also becoming more complex and treacherous, and not just since Corona. BfV Vice President Selen spoke of a “privatization” of spying by other countries. In addition to the traditional actors, there would be companies, individuals and foundations that also use intelligence methods. “They don’t have an ID card in their pockets, but they clearly have a state agenda,” said Selen. China and Russia were mentioned several times at the meeting, but Selenium warned that other countries should be looked at. Selen as well as BfV President Thomas Haldenwang, who spoke a greeting, appealed to the economy to cooperate with the protection of the constitution against the danger of espionage. Both emphasized that the intelligence service could help if there was a suspicion of an attack long before the police and public prosecutor’s office discover a criminal offense. Companies often shy away from formal investigation because they fear damage to their reputation.

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Industrial espionage Germany home office risk trap politics


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