German army announces creation of cyber security unit

Huang Panyue

BERLIN, April 5 (Xinhua) -- The German Minister of Defense Ursula von der Leyen announced Wednesday the creation of a military branch in charge of cyber defense located in Bonn.

The cyber unit is responsible for defense against virtual attacks, which until now sat primarily with the Federal Ministry of the Interior. The so-called Cyber and Information Space Command (KdoCIR) consists of 260 operatives and is planned to increase to 13,500 by 2021.

Its information technology specialists are tasked with defending the weapon systems and computer networks of the Bundeswehr (the German army) and political institutions against hacker attacks. The head of the cyber command, Ludwig Leinhos, says there have been more than 284,000 detected cyber attacks on Bundeswehr computer systems.

Another possible use of the new unit is to defend parliamentary procedures, such as elections, against virtual attacks.

In the event of a foreign deployment of the Bundeswehr, the information technology command can also manipulate and listen in on communication channels.

The legal framework for a virtual foreign mission is not clear yet, since the parliamentary participation act only covers the deployment of soldiers, not virtual attacks.

The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Armed Forces Hans-Peter Bartels has insisted that all offensive actions of the Bundeswehr must be backed by an explicit mandate of the German Bundestag (the parliament in Berlin).

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