German security office warned the German companies about the Chinese hacking: report

BERLIN (Reuters) – the German Office for information security (BSI) has issued warnings to several German companies named by the United States as a possible victim of hacking attacks, a newspaper, adding that the Chinese actions against the German firms had increased.

A man holds a laptop computer as a cyber-code is projected on him in this illustration photo taken on May 13, 2017. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/Illustration

Cyber experts have long warned that Germany – with its high level of technology and knowledge is a particularly attractive target for cyber criminals of all kinds, including of state actors.

“Construction and materials research, engineering companies and large commercial enterprises are the focus for hackers,” the Sueddeutsche Zeitung wrote on Wednesday without naming its sources.

The United States is engaged in a trade conflict with China and a senior AMERICAN intelligence official said last week that the Chinese cyber activity in the United States has increased in the past few months, focused on the critical infrastructure.

U.S. prosecutors are expected to charge that Chinese hackers were involved in a cyber espionage operation known as “Cloudhopper” targeting technology service providers and their customers, according to people familiar with the matter.

Cloudhopper focuses on the hacking of large, third-party, data-storage companies and cloud-software-service companies that store data for AMERICAN companies and government agencies.

The Sueddeutsche said Cloudhopper attacks were still relatively rare in Germany compared with the attacks supposedly originated in Russia. Although there is not yet a weekly victims, the attackers act in a more targeted manner and the damage can therefore be greater, the newspaper said.

In September, Germany’s domestic spy chief said a growing number of countries can hack into private computer networks, and installing malicious software to sabotage another country’s infrastructure.

He said that China, Russia and other countries continued to try to break into the German companies’ computers to steal industrial information.

In a push to fend off unwanted takeovers by Chinese investors, Germany’s cabinet is expected on Wednesday to lower the threshold to start the protection probes of interest purchases by non-European entities for the protection of critical infrastructure.

Reporting by Michelle Martin; Editing by Madeline Chambers

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