Cyber-security is a paramount challenge for a networked society
The largest and most fundamental chip location Silicon Saxony develops technologies for a safe IT-infrastructure. At a convention taking place in Dresden today, experts from industry and politics are discussing threats by hacker attacks to so-called "critical infrastructure". Due to their increasing networked structure Germany's institutions and its vital data nets are vulnerable to cyber-attacks: Transportation, energy and water supply as well as rail and air traffic represent potential targets. Banks, hospitals, telecommunication and media enterprises are at risk too.
As Dr. Hans-Peter Friedrich, German Minister of Internal Affairs, emphasized at the cyber-convention in the Coselpalais Dresden: "Aside from international terrorism, serious accidents, epidemic diseases or international conflicts, cyber-attacks are categorized as one of the four major threats." As he goes on: "Resistant cyber-structures must by all means be provided together with our partners from the economy. We should focus our acting in terms of security policy on it. Germany is doing its job. We have made apparent our priorities through our National Cyber-Security Strategy. We will yet present a bill concerning the IT security to the cabinet within the course of this parliamentary term."
Drastic rise: 42 per cent more attacks than in the previous year
Experts record an increase in such activities. As Frank Giessen, sales manager public sector at the IT security enterprise Symantec states: "Cyber-espionage against small and medium-sized companies is rising significantly. When compared to the previous year, targeted espionage attacks escalated by an alarming 42 per cent in 2012. The attackers primarily aim at manufacturers as well as small and medium-sized companies. Their priority is on stealing intellectual property." The software company annually publishes the "Internet Security Threat Report". This report supplies an analysis of global threat activities of the previous year.
As the trade association Silicon Saxony sees it, there are several fields of action with regard to the issue of "cyber-security": Reliable public infrastructures are imperative for investors and enterprises especially when it is about high investments. The protection of intellectual property is vital too. It is of major significance in a high-tech region as Silicon Saxony. Many of the companies and research institutes resident are directly affected since they are in the focus of cyber criminals as medium-sized firms and suppliers.
Markus Ulbig, Saxon Minister of Internal Affairs emphasizes: "Cyber-security is the locational factor of the future! The State has to ensure security in the virtual world as well. Therefore, in October 2012, we fathered the work group cyber-security in the Saxon Ministry of Internal Affairs. We are positive to find networked solutions for a networked world there engaging in an open dialogue with the industries. As a backbone to the town councils in particular we want to offer technical and administrative support for a digital Saxony. The protection of the crucial infrastructure is in the center of focus there. It does not bear thinking if attackers made the power or water supply of cities collapse or took over traffic control systems. We've got to be prepared for such scenarios."
Silicon Saxony: Competence network for safe chip architecture
The European micro and nanoelectronics sector in Silicon Saxony is already doing research on safe chip solutions. Without these a reliable infrastructure is by no means viable, especially in the field of chip design. With regard to Heinz Martin Esser, president of the high-tech trade association Silicon Saxony e.V.: "They form the basis for any electronic services. Micro and nanoelectronics mean the major and most primary key technology in our networked present. A safe chip architecture is paramount for a secure IT. The ‘highest’ firewalls and the best protected firm networks are of no use with an unsafe hardware. Therefore, the suitable chips are required too. The basic idea of a ‘security system on a chip’ provides a solution. There is no reliable IT infrastructure to come without these safe semiconductors including integrated safe software." Safe technologies should precede any regulation and obligation to report for companies affected – aside from the software, hardware plays a significant role.
As Michael Kretschmer, member of the German parliament and vice chairman of the CDU/CSU parliamentary fraction for education and research, art, culture and media concludes: "Germany has available an outstanding infrastructure when compared internationally – be it in the field of telecommunications, energy, traffic, health care or governmental services. At present we are facing the challenge to bundle these in smart networks. If we succeed to convince with the soundness and security of our technology and smart systems, the digitalization will turn into a sustainable success factor for the technology center Germany."
Pictures: Silicon Saxony / Frank Grätz