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31 Aug 2022 Industry News

Crime against German companies shifts towards digital space

Security, Policy, Digital Sovereignty

German companies are increasingly becoming targets for theft, espionage or sabotage, with almost every company in the country being targeted since the start of the pandemic. This is according to a representative study conducted by German digital association Bitkom.

Header: Economic Security Study 2022
© Antoni Shkraba

Attacks shift towards the digital space

The study reveals that the overall number of companies targeted using digital methods has increased, with a corresponding decline in analogue attacks. The most common types of attack include:

  • theft of digital devices,
  • theft of sensitive digital data,
  • espionage on communications and
  • sabotage of processes.

The most common type of data stolen in these attacks are customer and communications data, as well as business information and access data. The average amount of loss resulting from these digital attacks has doubled compared to pre-pandemic times. It now stands at an estimated €202.7bn. While Germany's digital companies tend to suffer less from current developments, this still is a worrying trend for the local economy.

Increasing amount of attacks on critical infrastructure

It is also shown that attacks on critical infrastructure have increased more significantly compared to noncritical infrastructure. This is particularly concerning as such attacks can have serious consequences on national security and public safety.

"The [...] study makes clear how important a resilient economy is for Germany as a business location. [...] Only through intense cooperation between businesses and the authorities can we effectively counter the threats of sabotage and espionage.“

(Vice President of the German Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Sinan Selen, 2022

Many of the attacks come from within Germany: 32% of the victimised companies suspect the perpetrators to be in Germany. China (43%) and Russia (36%) were also frequently named as regions of origin, with only 8% of companies being attacked from other European countries according to the companies taking part in the survey.

About the Economic Security Study

Through the Economic Security Study, Bitkom has been examining the state of the German economy in terms of economic protection every year since 2015. The results of the current study 2022 underline that in times of increasing networking of all areas of our lives, the resilience of the German economy against increasing threats from cyber space must be further expanded.