The nationwide problems with payments with EC or credit cards will continue this Friday. Many customers in the German retail sector are unsettled and are puzzled about the causes of the failure. Rumors of a possible Russian hacker attack are also doing the rounds. FOCUS Online asked the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI).

Since Tuesday evening, customers in German supermarkets and retail stores have had a major problem: they cannot pay for their purchases with a debit or credit card. Officially, certain payment terminals failed due to a software error.

Nevertheless, the rumor mill is churning. Many Aldi, Rossmann or Edeka customers are wondering: Could the massive disruption also be due to a cyber attack? Could Russian computer hackers be responsible for the chaos?

The fact is: since the beginning of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, reports of mutual hacker attacks have increased. Western Europe and Germany are also potential targets for Russian cyber warriors. It was not until mid-May 2022 that the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) warned that Germany was faced with an “increased threat situation”, including for critical infrastructures. According to the office, there have been individual “additional IT security incidents” in Germany since the beginning of the war.

But could the current chaos in payment systems also be the fault of Russian state hackers? FOCUS Online asked the BSI. A spokesman: “The BSI is aware of the facts. There is currently no evidence of a cyber attack.”

This makes it clear that, at least in this case, there must be another cause for the faults in a specific terminal type. This is the card payment terminal H5000 from the manufacturer Verifone. The US company announced: “We will shortly provide a software update for our customers to fix the problem and will inform our customers as soon as this is available.” According to the company, the H5000 terminal type is mainly used in used in Germany.

Even if the disruptions in the payment system are obviously not due to a cyber attack, the incident has made many people aware of the dangers of hacker attacks. Haya Shulman, a professor of computer science at Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main, recently warned that Russian secret services had “access to critical infrastructure” in the US and Europe. The IT security expert emphasized that the Putin regime could attack Germany at any time. “We are very vulnerable.”

The BSI has also repeatedly called on German authorities and organizations, including the federal administration, operators of critical infrastructures and other companies, to be “more vigilant”.