Germany Cites Cyberattacks to Missile Strikes in New Threat Plan

  • Merkel updates civil preparedness for first time in 21 years
  • WMD attacks, terrorism also seen as prime civil-defense risks

Germany needs to step up contingency planning for threats from cyberattacks and power outages to terrorism and missile strikes after letting its guard down at the end of the Cold War, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government said in a new civil-defense plan.

The collection of risk scenarios for Europe’s biggest economy, 14 years in the making, isn’t a response to any specific threat, Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere told reporters as he presented the document in Berlin on Wednesday. The old concept was “completely obsolete,” and “waiting for a crisis to happen” would be irresponsible, he said.

“The increasing vulnerability of modern infrastructure and modern society’s dependence on resources offer many points of attack,” according to the plan published by the Interior Ministry. “Proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems, conflicts carried out with terrorist methods and cyberattacks can lead to direct threats to Germany and its allies.”

Germany’s first revision of civil defense since 1995 is the second government report in two months citing the need for higher security-related spending. A defense white paper adopted by Merkel’s government in July said a “renaissance of classic power politics” is increasing the risk of war in and near Europe, as exemplified by Russia’s actions against Ukraine.

Having decommissioned bunkers and dismantled warning sirens after the end of the Cold War confrontation with the Soviet Union, Germany needs to ensure it has a modern warning system and evacuation plans, according to the report. Existing plans to ensure government continuity and everyday services such as waste removal and public access to cash need to be reviewed, it said.

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