From DPA:  German authorities confirmed Tuesday in a parliamentary document that their military possesses a top secret cyberwarfare unit which is already operational , but gave no details of how big it is or what kind of attacks it could conduct.

The German armed forces have been working for 20 years to defend the country’s computer networks from external attack, but have never disclosed before that they have an offensive capacity as well. . . .

"The initial capacity to operate in hostile networks has been achieved," the paper said, adding that the unit did "simulations" of attacks in a "closed laboratory environment."

From the Economic Times:  The cyber troops of the Computer Network Operations (CNO) have reached the initial capability for a cyber warfare on the computers of an adversary, the reports said.

The military began to deal with the threat from internet 20 years ago and a rapid reaction centre was set up at the Federal Office of Information Management and Information Centre of the army for speedy defence against cyber attacks.

The CNO, which operates independently from a location near Bonn, has not been deployed so far, the reports said.

The threat from the internet for its national security has been a main concern for the German government, especially in the wake of intelligence reports that hackers from China broke into the computers of ministries and other government departments to gain access to secret political, military and economic information.

The German interior ministry last year set up a cyber defence centre to step up the fight against the hackers by coordinating the activities of various organisations, including the intelligence services, in combating such crimes.

Germany’s domestic intelligence service has been noticing a growing interest among Chinese hackers to infiltrate the government’s computer network since 2005 and in most cases Chinese government departments were behind the attacks. . . .

Germany’s initiative to build up its cyber warfare capabilities is also intended to reduce its gap with its main NATO partners such as the US, France and Britain, which are far ahead in digital warfare, the reports said.

From John Leyden, the Register:  The admission, which appeared in parliamentary documents published on Tuesday, gave no details of the size of the unit much less any operations that it might have run. However documents delivered to the German federal defence committee did reveal that the unit has been operating for six years since 2006, a year before the cyber-attack on Estonia and four years before the discovery of the infamous Stuxnet worm. . . .

Prof Dr Wolff Heintschel von Heinegg, a professor of law at European University Viadrina Frankfurt in Germany, told El Reg that the armed forces of many nations are probably building up an offensive cyber capability. The only difference is that Germany and (also recently) the Obama administration is the US are publicly talking about it.

"The German MoD see a potential in having an offensive cyber-op capability as well as an ability to defend critical infrastructures", most notably military systems, Dr Heintschel von Heinegg explained.