Russia has a reputation for meddling in places it doesn’t belong, especially when it comes to elections. It appears like Germany may be the next target for cyber attacks according to a report from Politico.
The report cites a recent interview conducted by German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung with Bruno Kahl, the president of Germany’s foreign intelligence agency Bundesnachrichtendienst. According to Kahl, “cyberattacks are taking place with no other motive than to cause political uncertainty.”
In the conversation about Russia’s increasing interest in affecting elections and public discourse, Kahl pointed to the impact Russian hackers had during the 2016 United States Presidential election.
Following the release of emails sent by members of the Democratic National Committee and John Podesta, the chairman of the Hillary Clinton campaign, national security experts in the U.S. pointed to Russia as the likely culprit.
The stolen communications and information was released to the public via Wikileaks. While Wikileaks founder Julian Assange denied any involvement with Russia, it is believed the hacked records were gathered by hackers supported by the Russian government.
Russia has also come under fire for potentially playing a role in the spread of fake news during the U.S. election cycle. According to a report from the Washington Post, Russia produced a sophisticated propaganda operation that helped spread false information. Clinton and her campaign were often the target of the misinformation campaigns, which used social media accounts, bots, and a network of websites to circulate the bad intel.
The fear for Kahl and German officials is Russia will now turn its attention to Germany and other European countries following what appears to be a successful attempt at impacting the American election.
“Europe is now the focus of these interference attempts, and Germany in particular,” Kahl told the paper. According to him, the presence of Russian trolls and propagandists has been on the rise since the Ukrainian crisis.
With the German federal elections set to take place in 2017, the country could be new focus of Russian cyberattacks.
Kahl, who took over his post at Bundesnachrichtendienst in July, said the bad actors aren’t necessarily interested in helping a particular candidate rise to power. Rather, they just want to delegitimize the democratic process and cause chaos.
While some have argued the Russians had a preferred candidate in the U.S. election, the very threat of the adversarial nation’s influence has sown seeds of doubt. A recount of the votes, prompted by Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein, has been filed for in the swing states of Wisconsin and Pennsylvania in response to fears that vote tallies were tampered with.
Many security experts believe it unlikely that any sort of massive vote rigging could take place given the American electoral system—which is diffuse and relies heavily on non-electronic equipment—but enough doubt has been cast on the process to be cause for consternation.