What are the biggest challenges in cyber security?
The digitisation of society is increasing rapidly. A high level of information security is an absolute prerequisite for this. In other words, digitisation is not possible without information security.
Sensitive data is stored on many different electronic devices and exchanged over a large number of networks. So there are a lot of potential attack points for cybercriminals to harm companies, whether it is theft, modification of sensitive data or damage to the IT infrastructure.
Awareness of security issues is often still insufficient. In addition, it is difficult to attract qualified staff in the field of information processing and information security on favourable terms.
To what extent does the new study build on Clavis’ earlier work?
At Clavis we are conducting research on various topics in the field of cyber security. One of these topics is the introduction of information security management systems according to the IT Security Act. Our main concern is to make these projects successful, especially from an economic point of view. Many companies are not covered by this law, but are indirectly affected because they are held liable as service providers or suppliers of companies with critical infrastructures. At Clavis, we develop targeted and pragmatic procedures to meet the requirements.
For the education of cyber professionals at our new Cyber Management Campus, an application-oriented approach and the incorporation of relevant research results into the education programme is absolutely essential. In the “problem based learning” approach that we apply here, we use our knowledge and practical experience, among other things, to make interesting project topics available to students.
How is the cooperation with the Hochschule Bonn-Rhein developing?
The new Cyber Campus NRW has two locations: Cyber Management Campus Mönchengladbach and Cyber Security Campus Bonn. In Mönchengladbach the focus is on management topics, in Bonn on information technology topics. Both locations cover the whole range of information security. In this age of digitisation, it is becoming increasingly easy and natural to offer and benefit from training at different locations.
What profile do students on the Cyber Campus have to meet?
The most important criterium our future students have to meet is having a strong motivation. There is a great need for support services in the industry and different talents and characters can come in handy.
For example, in addition to well-trained computer scientists with knowledge of and love for software development, project managers with strong social skills are also needed. Compliance with relevant safety rules can be achieved with insight and not through sanctions. A company’s information security officer should therefore be seen as a service provider and not as a regulatory authority.
Are companies in Germany sufficiently prepared for the challenges of cyber security?
There are certainly well-organised IT departments, equipped with excellent specialists. But there are also plenty of IT departments that do not have a strategic approach because of their operational tasks and/or problems with the available resources. The smaller the companies or institutions are, the more difficult it becomes to deal adequately with all the necessary issues.
As pointed out earlier, technological change is accelerating rapidly. Gartner is the world’s leading company looking at current technological developments. In their annual “Hype Cycle”, the latest technologies are identified at an early stage and their chronological development over several years is estimated. This is done in five stages: 1 “technological trigger”, 2 “peak of exaggerated expectations”, 3 “valley of disappointment”, 4 “path of enlightenment” and 5 “plateau of productivity”.
Gartner’s Hype Cycle currently focuses on the interaction between man and machine and the integration of artificial intelligence. In the future, we will have to deal with technologies of which most people today have absolutely no idea. Some of these technologies have the potential to completely change markets. Information security will always be a relevant factor to take into account.
What role does corona play in cyber security?
The current corona crisis has given digitisation a major boost. Contrary to previous concerns, companies and organisations have been forced to make massive use of digital technologies.
It would be very helpful if the European Union were to invest a large amount of money – let’s say EUR 15 billion – so that, in about 10 years’ time, Europe will have its own information and communication technology infrastructure that is independent of the United States. The Americans should not be able to monitor and control everything we do in Europe. The most stable videoconferencing systems used by almost everyone during the corona crisis are (almost) exclusively in American control. And it is to be expected that these technologies will continue to be used in the future, in post-corona times.
Are partnerships planned with data centres, businesses and IT service providers from the municipality?
Yes, there are. We have a lot of experience from our other education programmes to make this profitable for everyone – companies and organisations, students and universities. So there are already tangible existing collaborations.
What’s the alignment with the NRW government’s plans for digitisation?
The state government in North Rhine-Westphalia is already addressing the issue of digitisation in many places. One example is the subject of NRW goes digital (see: https://nrwgoes.digital/ ). In the training programme, we are working together to raise awareness about information security.
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