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German Companies View China, US as Top Cyber Threats

Man types on a computer keyboard, February 28, 2013 file photo.
German companies consider the United States the second most threatening country for industrial espionage and data theft — just behind China.

That’s the conclusion of a survey of German company executives and information security managers at 400 companies conducted by the consulting firm, Ernst and Young, now known as EY.

According to the survey, 26 percent of those polled said the United States was a high risk country for cyber theft and industrial espionage. That was second only to China, which was cited by 28 percent of respondents as a high risk country.

Last year, only 6 percent of those surveyed viewed the U.S. as a threat.

Bodo Meseke, Head of Forensic Technology & Discovery Services at EY, said that while German companies are used to viewing China and Russia as threats, the companies need to realize that “Western intelligence agencies carry out very extensive monitoring measures.”

"When it comes to their own safety, the companies are, unfortunately, often blue-eyed and lulled into false sense of security," Meseke added.

U.S. surveillance became a hot-button issue in Germany after the German magazine Der Spiegel alleged that the U.S. government’s National Security Agency (NSA) worked closely with Germany’s Federal Intelligence Agency (BND).

The BND is Germany's main overseas intelligence agency. German officials say its cooperation with the NSA was fully regulated by strict legal guidelines.

Earlier this month, Germany ended a Cold War area surveillance pact with the U.S. and Britain in the wake of information revealed about U.S. surveillance activities by NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

In July, Germany demanded a public explanation for Snowden's allegations of large-scale spying by the NSA.