Germany hardest hit by cybercrime

Germany is at the top of the global list in terms of economic damage created by cybercrime. At the specialist congress Magenta Security on November 29 and 30, the focus is on how companies can protect themselves. We discuss the event in an interview with Dirk Backofen, Head of Portfolio Management, Engineering and Operations at Telekom Security.


Mr. Backofen, the official launch of the business unit Telekom Security is on Januar 1, 2017. But you are already staging a cyber-security congress in Frankfurt now. Why such a hurry?

That almost sounds as if Deutsche Telekom were just starting out on the topic of security. So I would like to clear that up before I answer your question, because of course that isn’t the case. With Telekom Security, we are bundling our substantial expertise to boost our respective clout even further – and that is what we are going to demonstrate at the cyber-security congress. So why the hurry? Because sitting back and waiting would be the totally wrong approach – for the victims, but also for the providers of security solutions. Every day counts. After all, when you build a house, you install the doors and windows before you move in. Decorating comes later.

What makes cybercrime so dangerous?

Many people still underestimate cybercrime. There’s a full-blown industry behind it that is not only growing very fast, but also getting more and more professional. Cybercriminals don’t need to invest a lot of effort or take many risks – but they can be very successful. At the same time, that means that the market for security providers is growing. We can and want to deliver an important contribution to cyber-security and to participate in the growth, of course.

According to CSIS, cybercrime already causes damage of about 0.8 percent in relation to global domestic product, putting it in fifth place among the most ‘expensive’ types of crime following theft (1.5 percent of global GDP), international crime (1.2 percent), drug trafficking (0.9 percent) and forgery/piracy (0.89 percent). In Germany, the damage is even worth 1.6 percent of GDP. So why are many companies so hard pressed to protect themselves from cybercrime effectively?

The decisive factor for most companies is that cybercrime takes place in an environment that is invisible or hard to recognize. Over the past few decades, they have developed viable defense mechanisms against conventional threats., But cybercrime is new by comparison. They don’t have enough expertise – and cybercrime is developing very dynamically and professionally. That means that individual companies on their own, especially medium-sized companies in Germany are outgunned.

So is cybercrime the price we pay for progress or increasing digitization?

Whenever something is lucrative, you will always find criminality. The phenomenon is not restricted to digitization. But cybercrime slows down the pace of global innovation by causing enormous financial and economic damage. There are numerous studies which cite worldwide damage of between 200 billion and 400 billion US dollars and estimate that about 150,000 jobs are lost because of it. That is money that is missing for investments in innovation. By contrast, protecting yourself against cybercrime costs just a fraction of the sum.

Which are the typical attack scenarios?

Along with theft of company secrets, financial offenses are the second most common reason for financial losses via cybercrime. But ‘social engineering’ – meaning sounding out the target environment – and the exploitation of coding and implementation errors in IT systems offer attackers easy opportunities, because these methods don’t require much material or technical effort.

How can companies protect themselves effectively? Which concrete steps are you presenting at the Magenta Security congress?

Though we are the congress organizers, we have naturally also invited prominent guests and experts along with numerous partners in order to present a comprehensive picture along with them. Apart from Tim Höttges and Oliver Bierhoff, Bruce Schneier and Tobias Schrödel will also be sharing their experiences and knowledge. We are also counting on partners on the product side of things. I don’t want to reveal too much already, but I can say that we will be showing solutions in central areas like network protection, secure identities and cyber-defense. You can find out more here on YAM on November 29. One highlight will certainly be the latest developments in drone security, which we will be presenting for the first time on November 30.

If you are interested in learning more about the event, you can find information and guest contributions from partners and speakers on the Magenta-Security-Congress homepage.