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Schönbohm ousted as German cybersecurity chief amid Russia ties

Schönbohm ousted as German cybersecurity chief amid Russia ties

Schönbohm ousted as German cybersecurity chief amid Russia ties

BERLIN – On Tuesday this week the German government made the announcement that effective immediately Arne Schönbohm, the president of the Federal Office for Information Security, will step away from his duties pending a formal investigation.

The removal stems from a controversy revealed by a German satire show (ZDF Magazine Royale) that revealed Schönbohm maintains contacts with the Russian intelligence community via the Cyber Security Council Germany, an organization that Schönbohm had a hand in founding, labeling him a “Cyber Clown”.  

Notably the Cybersecurity Council Germany e.V. (CCG), a private association that advises businesses and politicians on cybersecurity issues, held cybersecurity company Protelion as one of its members. Protelion is a subsidiary of a Russian firm said to have been established by a former member of the KGB, one honored by Vladimir Putin.

The CCG has denied the accusations leveled against them. “The accusations against the Cyber Security Council Germany e.V. of being influenced by Russian agencies are absurd,” CCG president Hans-Wilhelm Dünn said in a statement. “They are accusations against a single member of the CSRD e.V.. Protelion GmbH or its predecessor company Infotecs GmbH joined the association in June 2020. Since then, there have been neither discussions nor joint projects with representatives of the company. Accordingly, no influence could be exerted on the association platform and in the CSRD e.V. environment.”

Despite that claim it was reported in the German press that Dünn signed an agreement with a Russian contemporary as late as 2019 and that Schönbohm had given a speech at an anniversary event for the CCG according to Spiegel.

Regardless, the CCG announced, in the same release, the exclusion of Protelion from the council. “The actions of Protelion GmbH are a violation of the goals of the Cyber Security Council Germany e.V. The accusations due to media reports are not compatible with the fight against cybercrime and the promotion of cybersecurity – goals to which the CSRD e.V. is more committed than ever.” Dünn said.

The Cybersecurity Council Germany e.V. was founded in 2012.


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