Germany gears up for cyber war

Posted by Nermin Hajdarbegovic

The German Army held its first cyber warfare military exercise open to the public earlier this week and a select core of tech hacks were there to see what it was all about.

The scenario was straightforward. Red forces overran part of a fictional Blue continent in the Atlantic, prompting the UN Security Council to finally agree on something and sanction a military intervention. The German parliament approved the deployment of Bundeswehr forces and they quickly set about dismantling the enemy tech infrastructure. 

The cyber onslaught was launched by the Strategic Reconnaissance Command of the Bundeswehr, which includes the Computer Network Operations team, or CNO, a crack team of 60 geeks. The existence of the cyber war unit was not even made public until last year and it is still unclear how many cyber soldiers Germany has on call. Although thousands of women serve in the Bundeswehr, the 60-strong unit deployed in the exercise was manned solely by geeky men, which we don’t find very surprising. 

Reporters were allowed to interview the troops after the exercise, although no photos were allowed. One CNO solider said the weapons used in the attack are freely available on the internet, reports Heise.de.

"We use ordinary, commercially available products," he said. The troops used a range of tools with odd names like "John the Ripper" and "hostenum" to wreak havoc on the Red intranet.

CNO officers told reporters that their deployment is strictly regulated and they can only go into action following Bundestag approval. They follow the same rules of deployment as fighter squadrons or tank battalions and they need a clear mandate to spring into action.

In related news, upon hearing of the exercise, French President Nicholas Sarkozy instructed the French strategic nuclear forces to stand down and signed an instrument of unconditional surrender. We made this last bit up.