Cybersecurity, Disinformation, and Election Infrastructure Integrity:

Lessons and Priorities in Advance of the 2021 German Federal Election
19 May 2021
Event location



Chris Krebs, Chair, Commission on Information Disorder, Aspen Institute; Founding Director, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), US Department of Homeland Security (2018-20), USA 

Gerhard Schabhüser, Vice President, Federal Office for Information Security (BSI), Germany

Alina Polyakova, President & CEO, Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA)

Welcome: Rolf Nikel, Vice President, DGAP

Chair: Tyson Barker, Head of Technology and Global Affairs Program, German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)

As the 2021 German federal election approaches, new cyber, disinformation, and hybrid threats from Russia, China, and other actors are arising that could undermine the integrity of that election and, more generally, democratic discourse itself. State-backed information and influence operations that rely on digital platforms can impact the quality of information and confidence in the process. However, despite attempts by foreign and domestic actors to subvert the 2020 US elections, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) was able issue a joint statement with a number of state-level authorities deeming the November 3 election “the most secure in American history.” In that sense, the United States offers insight for Germany into current and future trends of cyber threats against democratic processes.

At this event, we discussed expectations, threats, and preparedness for digitally enabled interference in the 2021 German election. How are state-backed and homegrown cyber and disinformation threats evolving? Which unique characteristics and challenges must be taken into account when assessing these threats? Are there vulnerabilities related to electronic election systems – for example, in voter rolls, registration databases, and tabulation software – used beyond paper ballots? How will Germany’s IT-Security Law 2.0 change cybersecurity requirements for election systems? Is it time for Germany to classify election infrastructure as critical infrastructure?

For any questions, please contact Yulia Loeva (



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