Anhalt-Bitterfeld says it has been “paralyzed” by hackers and could be offline for a week or more.
Declaring disaster gives it access to federal aid to help its citizens, restore its systems and find the perpetrators.
The district of Anhalt-Bitterfeld in the eastern German state of Saxony-Anhalt says it was the victim of a cyberattack and has formally declared disaster after hackers infiltrated its computer systems.
Germany’s Federal Office for Information Security (BSI), which is investigating the crime, says the declaration makes it the country’s first “cyber-catastrophe.”
Local officials confirmed the crime on Friday, saying, “This attack directly affects the entire range of the district’s services, including the business of its citizens, which cannot be processed at the moment.”
On Saturday, a spokesman for the district told Reuters news agency, “We are almost completely paralyzed.”
Officials say the attack occurred on Tuesday and that the district will likely be forced to remain offline for at least a week, leaving it unable to pay out welfare benefits to recipients or finance youth programs.
The formal disaster declaration will allow the district of 158,000 residents to receive federal assistance as it seeks to return to the business of helping its citizens.