The fact that an industry giant like Continental was not able to protect its systems completely tells a lot about the degree of challenges concerning IT security. Moreover, medium-sized companies have increasingly been attacked by cyber criminals. Establishing a well-fortified digital structure is very cost-intensive regardless of building it up in-house or via external service providers. As cyberattacks involve high damage potential, it is obvious that companies make the investment and will continuously have to provide budgets for the area of IT security. Above all medium-sized companies in our industry often do not yet dispose of appropriate solutions to protect their IT infrastructure. Last year, the digital association bitkom warned by publishing alarming numbers: The total sum of damages for the German economy caused by data theft, espionage or sabotage doubled compared with 2018 and 2019. The problem was also intensified by increased implementation of remote workplaces or working from home.
At the moment, experts identify ransomware, that means malware getting access to IT systems via Trojan encoders as the biggest danger. According to Thomas Gnadl at Scaltel, a service provider of IT security, ransomware only stands for part of this menacing world. Phishing-Mails spying out sensitive data, DDoS attacks or non-patched systems represent further challenging areas. Setting up digital defence mechanisms is as important as sensitizing employees for the topic. In the case of Continental, it was reported that apparently one employee opened the door to the Continental system for hackers via “some wrong clicks”. The copied Conti data were offered at a price of 50 million US dollars in the darknet.
Many companies organize their data in cloud solutions. This trend will be intensified in the next years. The share of attacks on cloud systems has been rising too. Providers of such systems – as currently assessed – generally offer relatively good service for these solutions. Nonetheless, wrong use of these applications involves dangers, when e.g., the provision of data is not connected with limited access for certain users. Furthermore, insufficient configuration of some IT systems is considered as another area of problems. The variety of threats and vocabulary is already a huge challenge for medium-sized companies without in-house services. A selection: denial-of-service attacks, drive-by-downloads, IP-spoofing, spear-phishing or cross-site scripting – when looking at this mountain of cryptic vocabulary, these demanding challenges might turn into gigantic and intimidating scenarios at first glance.
Basics of IT security
Nevertheless, there are basics that can easily be implemented, like e.g., keeping systems state-of-the-art and installing the latest up-dates. Additionally, it is crucial to amplify employees’ understanding of security. The industry players we spoke with confirmed their well-developed awareness of the complex danger scenarios caused by cybercrime.
Jong Hyun Kim, IT Team Manager at Hankook, says for example: “Our company employs experts for network security and manages the majority of issues with in-house solutions. Our security management system was certified by VDA and TISAX (Trusted Information Security Assessment eXchange) in April 2022. This shows the level of our security standards for our systems”. Moreover, employees at Hankook are fully aware that costs for the protection of company-owned systems will even increase because of continuously growing danger potentials. “ A further team was brought to life taking care of the information flow around the topic of IT security in addition to already existing safety measures. There are additional processes paying attention to constant security and they are also supposed to enable the recovery of data in case of any emergency”, adds Jong Hyun Kim.
“Highest possible protection“
The Goodyear Retail Systems GmbH offers a comprehensive package of measures for IT protection to its trade partners. “There are IT processes like e.g., around the server of merchandise management tiresoft 3, which are protected in-house based on a pre-set control and risk index. In addition to this, further monitoring mechanisms for the protection of the computer centre are in place. Among others, geo-fencing, which means unusual log-in from specific countries/regions, unusual times of access, and in the future also multi-factor authentication will be further developed. Our close suppliers using out-sourced processes or mail servers to take care of GRS partners are also obliged to guarantee the highest possible protection with regard to cybercrime via security certificates and data protection audits. Firewalls with IP blockage or complete backups in physically separated locations every 24 hours are possible solutions for server protection. Concerning emails, the archive system is separated from the normal mail server and currently used standards for malware filtering and SMTP authentication play crucial roles too”, explains Dennis Epping, Manager Retail Operations at GRS.
Based on continuously increasing risk potentials, costs for the protection of IT infrastructure will keep growing. Our inquiries showed that key players in industry and trade have been investing in their defensive potential. The awareness of threats from cybercrime is highly developed – the case of Continental definitely intensified the extent of sensitization