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BSI warns against disinformation on the internet ahead of state elections

Carsten Breuer, Inspector General of the Bundeswehr / Photo: Robert Michael/dpa
Carsten Breuer, Inspector General of the Bundeswehr / Photo: Robert Michael/dpa

The BSI warns against disinformation on the internet in view of the state elections in eastern Germany and emphasizes the dangers of opinion amplifiers and cyber attacks.

The Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) has warned against disinformation on the internet in light of the state elections in several eastern German states. You cannot always rely on the fact that content on the internet in 2024 is actually people expressing their opinions, said President Claudia Plattner on Tuesday after a meeting with the Saxon cabinet in Dresden. "There are a lot of opinion amplifiers and they are purely electronic." This needs to be made clear - as does the fact that there are deliberate intentions behind it.

In the long term, it is important to find mechanisms that make it possible to identify the reliability of the material and the sender, said Plattner. "At the moment, we are very much dependent on raising awareness among citizens in this area." In the age of artificial intelligence and deep fakes, you can't even rely on the fact that what you see and hear is really what you think you see and hear. Unfortunately, it is relatively easy to put words in people's mouths that they have never said.

Plattner also reported on cyber attacks during her talks with the Saxon government, which met on Tuesday as the so-called Security Cabinet at the Army Officers' School in Dresden. It was not possible to say with certainty where these attacks were coming from. However, prominent actors have already been identified. A distinction must be made between attacker groups and countries of origin. The latter is a matter for the Federal Foreign Office. Plattner mentioned Russia, China, Iran and North Korea in connection with the activities of groups.

"Ultimately, it doesn't matter where it comes from and whether it is intentional or unintentional. But we have to prepare for it and strengthen our cyber resilience. This is a management task," said Thomas Popp, Saxony's State Secretary for Digital Administration and Administrative Modernization. Saxony's administration receives over 100 million emails per year, around 66 percent of which have to be sorted out for various reasons. "The attacks are getting closer and closer". Every authority must be prepared to become a victim one day and be prepared.

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