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Security challenges for a globally linked community

At the 11th Silicon Saxony symposium representatives from industry and politics discussed chances as well as challenges posed on a globally linked community under the motto "Megatrend security". Discussions centered on the aspects of safety and security. State secretary Stéphane Beemelmans from the German Ministry of Defense, EADS affiliate Cassidian, software specialist T-Systems Multimedia Solutions as well as the security software provider Symantec were among the guests.

Data theft, espionage attacks on power plants, hacker attacks on Internet providers, banks and cars – print media have portrayed a threatening scenario in the recent past. Information and communication technologies are ubiquitous, be it for private persons, enterprises or public infrastructure. ICT enables progress, growth and prosperity – and challenges their users at the same time. It makes us vulnerable to cyber-attacks. Participants of today's Silicon Saxony symposium in Dresden discuss various aspects of the global megatrend safety and security and corresponding challenges to modern ICT.

The more linking the higher the risk of cyber-threats

Industrial processes and security-critical infrastructure as transportation, energy supply or even military structures are increasingly linked. They benefit from state-of-the-art ICT that enable automating, refining and accelerating processes. ICT has two sides to it: As Heinz Martin Esser, executive board member of Silicon Saxony e.V. emphasizes: "To the same degree private persons are eager to keep off Trojans, viruses and spyware from their computers by employing special software, enterprises have to protect their sensitive production and business data as well as their know-how against too nosy competitors. The issue of security however involves more than just data security. By this I mean that ICT does not only have software but a hardware component to it as well – which is the micro and nanoelectronics. Chips, sensors and transmission modules represent the heart of a linked community."

Megatrend security looked at from several perspectives

Thus, experts at the convention discussed threats imposed by the Internet on the one hand and pointed out specific potential risks by manipulation of Driver Advisory Systems in vehicles or industrial espionage etc. On the other hand they addressed the role of secure hardware and the impact of a powerful European microelectronics sector. As Esser states: "We have to ask ourselves: How could we benefit from even the most secure software or the most sophisticated data structure if the hardware it is installed on represents a gateway for cyber-attacks? If we get the chance to configure chips and sensors in a way to make them "transmit information home" what would that mean to present day military systems, company internal data, power plants and traffic control systems?"

"A migration of production results in a loss of technology sovereignty"

Participants reached an unsettling conclusion: Cyber-crime is getting increasingly sophisticated and makes use of the growing network in industry and society. A powerful European microelectronics sector is thus vital for a potent European economy. As Heinz Martin Esser sums up: "Those industrial enterprises and research institutes settled here have laid the basis for a secure ICT in the past and will remain being a driving force for technology." Production, research and development expertise is nevertheless migrating and with it is the control of the really secure IT. Esser points out:"This development cannot only be seen in the microelectronics sector – the European automotive industry, machine engineering as well as the aerospace industry are dependent on product innovations based on microelectronics. In order to meet this challenge, the support by European politics is required, not merely in terms of security."

Pictures: Silicon Saxony