German IT security chief fired for alleged contacts with Russia

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German IT security chief fired for alleged contacts with Russia

Arne Schönbohm is suspected of negligence towards Kremlin intelligence services

Germany’s Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser fired Arne Schönbohm, chairman of the Federal Office for the Security of Information Technology (BSI), on Tuesday over alleged contacts with Russian intelligence services through the controversial association Cyber-Sicherheitsrat Deutschland (CSRD). ), a self-proclaimed German Cyber ​​​​Security Council. A spokesman for the Federal Ministry of the Interior announced the immediate resignation and the opening of a disciplinary file against the senior official, hitherto head of computer security in the Berlin government. Schönbohm is suspected of a negligent lack of distance from Russian espionage because of his relationship with the said association, which officially advises companies, politicians and authorities on cybersecurity issues.

The Schönbohm scandal erupted ten days ago after the satirical television program ‘ZDF Magazin Royale’ exposed its contacts with the CSRD, triggering security alarms from the government and sparking a barrage of criticism from all political sectors. The Cyber-Sicherheitsrat Deutschland association includes the Berlin cybersecurity company Protelion, which was registered as Infotecs GmbH until the end of March. This, in turn, is a subsidiary of Russian cybersecurity firm OAO Infotecs, which was founded by a former KGB member, according to the research network Policy Networks Analytics. The dismissed top official co-founded the association in 2012 and recently took part in the celebration of the anniversary of the controversial Security Council, which in some acts has suggested that it is an official institution. As early as 2019, its president, Hans Wilhelm Dünn, acknowledged to the press his close relationship with the Russian intelligence services.

On the other hand, Faeser has announced the creation of a Critical Infrastructure Coordination Office and the drafting of a law that will establish minimum requirements for the latter’s managers in light of the threat of attacks and sabotage in the hybrid war that Russia has been waging since the invasion of Ukraine. “It is most appropriate in these times,” said the federal head of the Interior, whose ministry will organize and lead this new institution in coordination with other relevant portfolios. It is that those responsible for operating critical infrastructures such as electrical or communication networks, as well as hospitals, transportation or fuel or water supply services, make their facilities “proof to all kinds of attacks,” said Faeser, who noted that since the beginning of the war last February, these professionals have been sensitized.

That is also the reason for the elaboration of a bill called Kritis that will affect all critical infrastructures and establish specific minimum requirements for their operation. “We determine which standards they must meet. And I think it is important and correct to enact it by law,” Faeser told Reuters. Regarding the alleged sabotage in the Baltic Sea waters against the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines, which communicate Russia directly with Germany , the minister said she had no new data yet, although she assured the investigation “continues” from who is behind it”. The same is happening with the sabotage of the German railways two weeks ago, which paralyzed train traffic throughout the north of the country for more than half a day. In this sense, the minister emphasized that it seems correct that the federal prosecutor’s office and the federal investigative agency, in charge of the fight against terrorism, are dealing with the two cases.

Source: La Verdad

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