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Cybersecurity: The backbone of a successful digital transformation

Complex cyber-attacks in industrial environments are among the greatest threats to smooth business processes. Every year, espionage, sabotage and data theft cause serious damage running into billions. But security and trust are essential for a successful digital transformation. A closer collaboration between businesses, politics and civil society is as vital to public confidence in digitalisation as it is to Germany's cyber resilience.

Digitalisation holds almost unlimited potential: By 2025, Europe could add up to 2.5 trillion Euros to GDP, boosting GDP growth by one percent a year over the next decade. At the same time, on a private level every German consumer is forecasted to possess an average of 9.8 connected devices in 2023. This would enable many so-called smart solutions such as smart living. However, the ever-increasing digital interconnectedness entails major security challenges that need to be managed. Only if cybersecurity can be guaranteed, confidence in the digital transformation will persist in the long-term. The same applies to the ongoing digitalisation of  industrial production, finding its expression in the rise of digital platforms – an important contribution to higher productivity and economic growth in Germany.

Cyber-attacks: A major risk to business activities

The increasing digitalisation and networking of various dimensions of society, spurred inter alia by the Corona pandemic, also entails risks: Criminals are taking advantage of the fact that many industrial machines as well as simple devices (e.g. televisions and Wifi-cameras) – increasingly software-controlled and connected to the Internet – show inherent vulnerabilities and lack regular updates. Hackers exploit these weak spots and try to gain access to the software of these devices to conduct so-called Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks. The consequences of a successful cyber-attack can be devastating for companies – sometimes, if not managed well, even leading to bankruptcy. On a global scale, according to the Allianz Risk Barometer 2021, cyber incidents are ranked top 3 as the greatest business risk by companies. 

In addition, industrial companies are often victims of even more complex cyber incidents. In 2021, data theft, industrial espionage and sabotage are estimated to have caused the German economy losses of around 223 billion Euros. Digital attacks affected almost nine out of ten companies. Apart from malware infection, theft of precious business data and phishing attacks were the most common methods used by criminals.

German industry contributes to enhanced cyber resilience

The majority of German companies takes organisational, employee-related and technical security measures to reduce the threat of attacks. In addition, when producing connected devices many German companies abide by the “security-by-design”-principle. Thus, they provide customers with highly cyber-resilient products and services.

All those involved – from hardware and software manufacturers to commercial operators, private users and government agencies – must be actively and holistically involved in strengthening cyber-resilience. German industry will continue to make its contribution to this, because a high degree of cyber-resilience is a basic prerequisite for the trouble-free functioning of highly digitalised processes in companies. At the same time, however, the national and European legislators need to provide companies with a regulatory framework that enhances Germany's and Europe's cyber-resilience while addressing the needs of businesses.

Furthermore, a close cooperation between public and private actors is of central importance in the field of cyber security. In this context, the Alliance for Cyber Security (Allianz für Cybersicherheit), launched in 2012, represents a successful model for creating cooperation between state and non-state (business) actors. The Alliance for Cyber Security offers its members up-to-date information on the IT security situation, various events for the exchange of knowledge and best practices, as well as a wide range of consulting and support services. Several thousand companies and institutions, such as the Federation of German Industries (BDI), have already joined the initiative - and the number is rising.

For even closer cooperation between industry and politics, the BDI and the Federal Ministry of the Interior jointly launched the project “Bündnis für Cybersicherheit” in 2018. While intensifying the exchange on international cyber security topics, BDI and BMI are working on an overview of the existing cyber security initiatives of government and industry. It aims at companies to find the right contact person as quick as possible.