Germany’s cyber chief sacked over Kremlin ties

The boss of German cyber watchdog BSI, Arne Schoenbohm, was dismissed over alleged ties with people involved with Russian security services.

The departure of Schoenbohm will be followed by an investigation from Germany’s Interior Ministry over allegations that the head of BSI was involved with persons tied to Russian security apparatus.

According to reporting by Reuters, Schoenbohm came under scrutiny after a satirical TV show in Germany highlighted his ties with a cybersecurity consultancy that included a company set up by a former KGB officer.

Schoenbohm founded the Cybersecurity Council of Germany in 2012 to advise businesses and the government on cybersecurity. In 2016 he was appointed the head of BSI.

The Council set up by the now-former BSI boss included a company named Protelion, a subsidiary of a Russian firm supposedly set up by a former KGB officer, honored by Russia’s president Vladimir Putin himself.

Protelion was expelled from the Council after the media started scrutinizing its members. Schoenbohm argued that he had little involvement with the Council in recent years.

Fears over possible cyberattacks on critical infrastructure have been high in European capitals as the continent enters the cold period of the year without the usual assistance of Russian gas imports.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, several cyberattacks have impacted German energy suppliers. An attack in April forced Deutsche Windtechnik, a German wind turbine maintenance and repair company, to turn off its IT systems for two days.

Another German wind turbine operator, Nordex, was hit by a cyberattack on the last day of March. As a result, the company was forced to shut down ‘various IT systems.’

Russian attack on satellite operator ViaSat on the day of the invasion knocked out the remote control of over 5,000 wind turbines operated by another German company, Enercon.