On Tuesday, German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer and the BfV agency reported that cyber attacks with a likely origin in Iran is steadily increasing since 2014, and numerous such attacks were seen on German targets in 2017.
Germany has become increasingly vocal with its concerns about Iran’s missile development activities While fighting to preserve the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran after the U.S. withdrawal.
Earlier this year, the foreign ministry summoned Iran’s ambassador to reprimand Tehran for spying on individuals and groups with close ties to Israel, calling such acts a completely unacceptable breach of German law.
According to the new intelligence report, cyber attacks were mainly aimed at the German government, dissidents, human rights organisations, research centers and the aerospace, defence, and petrochemical industries. “The observed cyber campaigns are developing such efficacy that the operations initiated and guided by intelligence agencies to gain information could pose a danger to German companies and research institutions,” the report added.
It is believed that Iranian hackers mainly used malicious software that was publicly available, along with social engineering tools, often exhibiting great patience until sites were infected. “Compared to Russian or Chinese attacks, a qualitative difference can no longer be ascertained,” the report said. “Iran has established itself as a capable and potent actor in the realm of cyber espionage. A further expansion of its capacities and the willingness to use these possibilities is likely.”
Germany’s intelligence agency report also said Russia, China and Iran constituted the biggest cyber and espionage threats to Germany. Tehran and Moscow continued to expend significant organisational and financial resources to target German political, economic, academic and technical targets, as well the military, through espionage and cyber activities, the report said.
The report also added that Iranian intelligence agencies continued their efforts to affect public opinion in Germany even after the 2017 German election. “Such disinformation and propaganda campaigns are meant to destabilise the German government and weaken its position as a proponent of extending (European Union) sanctions against Russia,” the report concluded.