The University of Applied Sciences in Heilbronn is one of the leading institutions in its field. Its seven faculties offer numerous Bachelor and Master degrees in technology, economics and computer science. At the Heilbronn-Sontheim Campus, main Heilbronn site, Reinhold-Würth University in Künzelsau and the Schwäbisch Hall Campus, students of all subject areas are readied for the world of work. With 130+ Erasmus partner universities and exchange partners in 60 countries, the University of Applied Sciences in Heilbronn promotes international cooperation and maintains close ties with regional businesses. When in October 2022 the university fell victim to a cyberattack, it became necessary for various systems to be shut down at short notice and cut off access to the various locations’ internal networks, administration and faculties. The result was students were unable to contact their lecturers, deadlines were missed and internal processes ground to a halt. Faced with a crisis, the university called on the services of Bechtle, with which it had a framework agreement, to set up a system to allow for emergency operations during the upcoming semester.

After the attack on our network, we had absolutely no access to our intranet and students and teachers were unable to access their e-mails or drives. We are amazed by Bechtle’s structured approach to setting up our emergency system. The company wasn’t only able to provide us support at very short notice, but they took a pragmatic approach to the situation, setting up a backup system in a matter of weeks and then helping us make the switch from that to the new system, too.

Martin Haag, CIO, University of Applied Sciences Heilbronn


To ensure teaching could continue, the university needed a secure environment that provided access to the most important services—albeit not as easily as had previously been the case. Time was of the essence and after Bechtle received the commission, it quickly set up a provisional system to secure teaching capabilities despite the many restrictions. In the meantime, the Cybersecurity Agency of Baden-Württemberg (CSBW) analysed the malicious code that had caused all the issues and, together with the university’s security officer, recommended that all Windows clients along with critical firewalls and the Active Directory be completely reinstalled. With Bechtle’s IT security specialists by its side, that’s exactly what the Heilbronn university did, with the IT company taking on project management, configuring the overall architecture and designing a state-of-the-art network. The decision was ultimately made to connect parts of the existing structure with the newly set up systems before the new network completely replaced the old and the Cisco hardware already in place was to be retained. However, before this could be done, a detailed network concept was needed to optimise segmentation and security. To this end, Bechtle split the university’s IT into numerous segments to boost security and improve control of the individual areas. PCs and servers, admin staff and professors with labs were allocated their own segments which Bechtle configured redundantly depending on how they were to be used. Additional security was provided by hardening the system at various points as well as limiting rights in those areas, with Bechtle also switching all of the university’s devices to private, future-proof IPV6 addresses and configuring a new firewall. The entire configuration process along with the migration of services and applications from the old to the new system took place bit by bit, prioritising the services that would allow teaching to get up and running again in collaboration with the university’s Chancellor and other project stakeholders. Bechtle supported the data centre employees as well as all those IT staff involved in the project with its ESXi, firewall, ACI and NetApp expertise as well as by providing additional employees to ensure all essential services could get off the ground quickly. 


Business benefits.

Thanks to Bechtle’s project planning and management and its support of data centre and IT faculty employees, the Heilbronn University of Applied Sciences was able to get back on its feet in just a few weeks with a considerably more secure environment than it had before. The segmenting, IP private addresses and optimised network architecture have created a more robust and future-proof infrastructure and Bechtle’s speedy and structured approach not only allowed teaching plans and timetables to be published, but also meant employees were able to once again access their network-based documents from the internet. Bechtle can now extend this solution to cover the entire network in the future.