Germany’s financial regulator BaFin warned on Tuesday about the “very large” risk of cyberattacks targeting the financial sector, a threat that had become “more likely” since Russia’s war on Ukraine.
“The risk that financial sector companies will be victims of cyberattacks or internal IT security incidents, the risk that it is huge and very present,” BaFin President Mark Branson said in a press conference.
In extreme cases, “such events could harm the stability of the financial system”, he said.
“Are we really prepared for a serious security incident? If we’re being honest, we don’t know,” Branson said.
Ukraine and its Western allies have been on the alert for possible Russian hacking attempts since Moscow invaded its neighbor on February 24.
The “Five Eyes” intelligence sharing network – which includes the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand – warned in April that “developed intelligence” indicated that Russia could conduct large-scale cyberattacks against rivals backing Ukraine. was planning.
“The war in Ukraine has increased the potential for cyberattacks on the German financial sector,” Branson told reporters in Frankfurt.
In collaboration with Germany’s National Cyber Defense Center, he said the BaFin watchdog is monitoring the situation closely. He added that BaFin was also updating financial firms on possible attack patterns.
Last month’s “Five Eyes” alert said Russian state-sponsored cyber actors had the power to compromise IT networks, steal vast amounts of data from them while hiding, deploy destructive malware, and “distributed denial of service”. With the ability to lock the network. attack.
The alert identified more than a dozen hacking groups, both part of Russian intelligence and military bodies and operated privately, that posed a threat.
Germany has repeatedly accused Russia of state-sanctioned hacking attempts in recent years.
The most high-profile incident ever on Russian hackers was a cyberattack in 2015 that paralyzed the computer network of the Bundestag, the lower house of parliament, forcing the entire institution to go offline for a few days. was.
Russia denies being behind such activities.