Major General Werner Sczesny

Vice President of the Federal Intelligence Service


"Complete surveillance in cyberspace is not possible," the vice president of the BND, Werner Sczesny, made clear right at the beginning of his keynote. Nevertheless, he said, the intelligence service tries to be prepared for all possible scenarios. However, it becomes particularly difficult when millions of attacks occur within a very short space of time  - as recently happened after the arrest of Julian Assange. As a result, Ecuadorian institutions had to cope with around 40 million cyber attacks.

But even without these clustered actions, cyberattacks today are highly professionalized and, to a large extent, automated. There are 150 million attacks per day alone to check the functionality of stolen identities on platforms, Sczesny explained. "The force of the attacks continues to increase. Of most interest to us are those in which the attackers avoid publicity. This applies to cyber espionage from abroad, which is targeted at politics, business and the military,”  Sczesny said. "No professional cyberattack is conducted openly ," he stressed. Thus damage is not always immediately apparent..

The BND's focuses primarily on those attacks from abroad that are relevant to security in Germany, for example, because they target critical infrastructure or influence the formation of political opinion. The agency records and analyzes  the characteristics of these attacks, he said and  also increasingly uses  machine-based learning and methods of data mining and deep learning to identify patterns. However, "the best AI strategy will only help us if people can get their questions answered simply and understandably. Human-machine interaction needs to be further developed  and adapted."

The technological revolution is a megatrend, but not the only one. "Our work must also consider and capture megatrends such as globalization, demographics and climate change," Sczesny explained. Existential connections like these need to be identified for security preparedness - and not only in cyberspace, he said.