Anhalt-Bitterfeld: Hacker attack on the district triggers a disaster

Germany Hacker attack

First cyber disaster in Germany – Anhalt-Bitterfeld district paralyzed


It is unclear when the servers in the Anhalt-Bitterfeld district can be restarted

Source: pa / Geisler-Fotop / Snapshot / Tobias Seeliger / Geisler-Fotopress

After a hacker attack on the servers of the Anhalt-Bitterfeld district, the administration is blocked, for example social benefits can no longer be paid out to citizens. In order to be able to react quickly, the case of a disaster applies.

Dhe district of Anhalt-Bitterfeld declared the first cyber disaster in Germany because of a serious cyber attack on its administration’s network. According to its own statements, the administration of the district in Saxony-Anhalt has to cease its work for almost two weeks because criminals attacked the computer system on July 6th. “We are practically completely paralyzed – and that will also be the case in the coming week,” said a spokesman on Saturday. The district with around 157,000 inhabitants can therefore no longer pay out any social or maintenance benefits. The security authorities are investigating.

The attack occurred on Tuesday. Several servers were infected from a previously unknown source, it said. As a result, an unspecified number of files was encrypted. All critical systems were disconnected from the network to prevent any data leakage.

The disaster was declared in order to be able to react more quickly, as the district spokesman explained. Now it is a matter of finding the source of the infection, as well as analyzing and combating the virus. The IT infrastructure must be rebuilt. Citizens’ services should be resumed as soon as possible. Many financial issues are affected by citizens. It is about people who are waiting for social benefits, or about youth welfare.

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The Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) announced on Saturday that it was switched on and on site. “There have already been attacks on municipalities in Germany, but none that then declared a disaster,” said a spokeswoman.

Municipalities are particularly poorly protected against attacks

The district of Anhalt-Bitterfeld did not want to provide any information about the attackers with reference to the police investigations. In security circles it is suspected that it is again blackmail. In such cases, attackers encrypt data, which they only release again after payment of the required sum.

In security circles, it is pointed out that the municipal IT infrastructure in Germany is probably the worst protected against cyber attacks – although a lot of data from citizens is generated here. Large companies and the federal government, on the other hand, can afford extensive IT departments. The BSI has a national cyber defense center that is primarily intended to register and ward off attacks on the federal administration. Companies in the so-called critical infrastructure, such as energy supply, are also required to report cyber attacks. Some municipalities have outdated software and hardware and only small IT departments.

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In the past few months, attacks by criminal groups on networks had increased both on companies and on public institutions. For example, medical companies and the Düsseldorf Clinic were attacked, which then had to temporarily close departments. Just last week, a cyber attack by a blackmail group in the USA and other countries such as Germany affected hundreds of companies. In some cases, state actors are also suspected to be behind the criminal groups.