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A symbolized map of the world on a laptop screen: A total of 60 authorities are rehearsing for an emergency

Photo: Nicolas Armer / dpa

Authorities are repeatedly victims of cyber attacks, but major infrastructure failures have so far failed to materialize in Germany. To keep it that way, crisis teams and heads of authorities in the federal and state governments have launched the two-day large-scale exercise "Lükex 23", in which a cyber attack on government and administration is simulated.

So that the participants could not prepare for the task, the exact scenario for the exercise was kept secret until the end. The exercise began at 9 a.m. on Wednesday morning, and the participants were informed by e-mail about the specific crisis to which they had to respond. In order to make the scenario look as real as possible, a fictitious news program was produced for the practitioners to watch.

More interest in prevention

Although about 60 authorities, companies and a total of about 3000 people are taking part in the exercise, the population is unlikely to notice it. Lükex is the abbreviation for "cross-border and cross-departmental crisis management exercise". In previous Lükex exercises, for example, the scenario of a pandemic had been played out. In November 2018, the scenario was "Gas shortage in southern Germany".

The willingness to take precautions has apparently increased in recent years. "In terms of the number of actors involved, this is the largest Lükex exercise ever," said the President of the Federal Office of Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance (BBK), Ralph Tiesler, the German Press Agency. "For the first time in the almost twenty-year history, all federal states are involved."

In Germany, the federal states are responsible for disaster control. The federal government must take care of civil defence – i.e. the protection of the population in the event of war. There are ongoing civil defense exercises, Tiesler explained. As an example, he cited the nationwide warning day, on which the alerting of the population is rehearsed once a year. However, there has not yet been a Lükex exercise with a purely civil defence scenario, such as a war of aggression such as the one Ukraine is currently experiencing.