Cut off from know-how and technologies: The sanctions against Moscow have far-reaching consequences for Russia. The Office for the Protection of the Constitution fears that this could increase the risk of espionage.

The protection of the constitution sees an increased risk of industrial espionage because of the sanctions imposed on Russia.

The Russian economy is being cut off from know-how and technologies, writes the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) in a “security notice for the economy” published on Tuesday.

“Therefore there is a risk that there will be more attempts to initiate, especially by employees in sectors of the economy and research relevant to Russia, also in Germany,” says the paper. Employees with Russian nationality are particularly at risk. “The contact can be completely casual and with a long-term perspective.” Opportunities to do so arise, for example, when Russian citizens have to make contact with diplomatic institutions or authorities in their home country. “But you can also try to put pressure on relatives or acquaintances who have stayed in Russia by means of reprisals. In general, the Russian intelligence services do not shy away from methods such as threats and blackmail if necessary.”

It is conceivable that actors on both sides of the war evaluated databases that provide information about companies’ business with Russia in order to derive targets for disinformation or sabotage activities, for example.

War accompanied by cyber attacks

According to the Federal Office, the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine is being accompanied by cyber attacks and attempts to exert influence. The cybercrime groups “KILLNET” and “REvil” attacked western targets. More and more Russians are also interested in emigrating to Germany, such as members of the opposition but also employees of German or European companies who are completely or partially withdrawing from Russia.

The Office for the Protection of the Constitution advises companies and employees to be careful with passwords and company information and to be careful with suspicious e-mails. In particular, newly hired employees with Russian nationality should be warned against attempts by secret services to contact them, and reporting channels for suspicious incidents should also be established. “Do not hesitate to contact the Office for the Protection of the Constitution if you suspect that employees are being, or have already been, the target of attempts to find out or initiate. This is especially true when there are concrete threats.”