Germany’s cybersecurity chief fired following reports of alleged Russian ties
BERLIN — The head of Germany’s Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) on Monday morning was fired after reports in major German media that he was in regular contact with the Russian embassy.
The decision to fire the head of Germany’s federal cybersecurity agency on Monday appears to be the latest in a series of moves by German authorities to tighten up Germany’s defenses against cyberattacks. It occurred as questions were swirling over whether Russia was responsible for allegedly hacking the German Bundestag and then attempting to influence the election, with Germany struggling with a new government.
The decision to fire the cybersecurity head appears to be the latest in a series of moves by German authorities to tighten up Germany’s defenses against cyberattacks and online propaganda efforts.
The decision by Germany’s Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) to fire the head of the federal agency, Markus Kerber, comes a day after reports in German media said Kerber was in regular contact with the Russian embassy. At least two of the media reports cited by German authorities say that Kerber was in contact with the embassy from October 2016 to February 2017.
But Kerber denied the reports on Monday.
“I have never been in contact with the Russian embassy, and it was just the media who said so, therefore it’s not true,” he said.
The move Tuesday by Germany’s BSI to fire Kerber comes two days after the news report that he was in a regular contact with the Russian embassy.
German authorities had already moved to tighten up their cyber defenses after the alleged hacking of the Bundestag. The BSI and the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), the government body that supervises elections and monitors election security, were investigating both the alleged hacking of the Bundestag and whether the actions taken by Russia were influencing the upcoming national election, according to German authorities.
Officials with two German news outlets, Welt am Sonntag and Deutschlandfunk, published accounts of an August 2016 meeting between then-Bundestag President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Alexander Bortnikov, the Russian ambassador to Germany, along with a transcript of a