Attacks on IT infrastructures and data don’t just impact large corporations and public institutions. SMEs, too, have long since been in the cross-hairs. These businesses in particular have a lot to lose, but it’s rare for them to have their own in-house security teams that can act in the event of an attack, or even register a breach in time to contain the damage. This is where digital first responders come in—detecting and evaluating security incidents and taking the appropriate countermeasures. The German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) uses qualified partners such as the Bechtle IT service provider to conduct training to prepare these kind of first responders and incident experts for an emergency. These courses form the foundation of a digital chain of survival that can be used by SMEs as well as citizens if they fall victim to an attack.
Digitalisation is increasing its hold in all areas of our lives and the economy In theory, security would have to keep in step to keep this digital world protected. But that’s not the case and the gap will only widen if businesses and public institutions don’t take appropriate countermeasures. “The BSI has classified the current situation as being ‘tense to critical’. The amount of malware and incidents of identity theft has risen considerably and recent Bitkom studies show that the German economy has never been more affected by cyberattacks than it is right now,” explains Matthias Mehrtens, senior IT security advisor at Bechtle and Professor of Cyber Security Management at the Niederrhein University of Applied Sciences in Mönchengladbach. It’s clear that SMEs don’t have the resources to set up their own security teams, but they can leverage their existing means and personnel to considerably improve their starting point in the event of an attack thanks to the BSI’s cyber security network, to which Bechtle belongs.
The BSI’s cyber security network is a voluntary group of security experts providing initial support and prompt information through a central emergency number anyone can access in the event of a security incident. Furthermore, this network provides info kits including details of expert contacts and thus individual support in the wake of a breach. “It’s our aim to create an efficient and affordable structure to help both SMEs and citizens when the worst happens,” explains Matthias Mehrtens. As with every accident, the foundations of a digital survival chain are formed by the first responders. To make sure they know what to do in the event of minor issues and IT incidents, for example, the BSI offers free webinars to prepare participants.
The BSI has classified the current situation as being ‘tense to critical’. The amount of malware and incidents of identity theft has risen considerably and recent Bitkom studies show that the German economy has never been more affected by cyberattacks than it is right now.
Prof. Dr. Matthias Mehrtens
The next link in the chain is formed by incident experts—or, to stay with the image, the ambulance. “During a three-day training seminar, the participants learn about the chain of survival, discuss regular tasks and activities as well as the procedure in the event of an incident. We also cover attack scenarios, emergency and countermeasures, remote and on-suite support as well as standard procedures,” explains Matthias Mehrtens, who is an instructor on the course. The courses are designed for IT security officers and other IT security professionals. Once the participants have completed the course at Bechtle, they can get certified by the BSI and register for the cyber security network as an incident expert.
Matthias Mehrtens is himself an incident expert for Cyberwehr Baden-Württemberg and the BSI. “In my 20 years as a CIO, I have regularly been involved in security incidents and IT disruptions. I enjoy helping and find the work extremely interesting as in the majority of cases, there is no solution to start off with. That means you can’t just apply what you know, but learn something new every time.