German military allowed to use ‘offensive measures’ against cyber attacks

Reuters reports that the German military has been given the authority to respond with “offensive measures” if its computer networks are attacked, German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen has said.

Speaking at the opening ceremony for Germany’s new cyber command in Bonn, Von der Leyen, gave no details of what kind of retaliation she had in mind.

“If the German military’s networks are attacked, then we can defend ourselves. As soon as an attack endangers the functional and operational readiness of combat forces, we can respond with offensive measures,” she said.

She added that the German military could be called in to help in the event of cyber attacks on other governmental institutions. During foreign missions, its actions would be governed and bounded by the underlying parliamentary mandate.

Any legal questions would be addressed by the military in close cooperation with other government agencies, she added. The new Bonn-based command has an initial staff of 260 that will grow to around 13,500 in July.

In her opening, Von der Leyen said Berlin is in the process of increasing expenditure to keep up with technical innovations. Germany’s current military budget included €1.6 billion for information technology-related items, ranging from new radios and hardware to service contracts. Spending is also due to increase significantly in 2018.