While cyber attacks are not a new phenomenon, it appears to be causing quite a problem in recent months if the news coverage around them is any indication. Turn on any news channel and you’ll be sure to find a story or two about the latest attack on an American company by Chinese hackers. What you don’t hear often enough is that this issue is not just isolated to the United States but is happening around the world, including an influx of attacks on German businesses.
Deutsche Welle ran a story about this issue of cyber attacks in Germany and reported on a study released by Germany’s Economics Ministry revealing that 93 percent of all small to mid-sized companies in the country have experienced security attacks to some degree. That is a startling number of attacks, and while not all of them cause major disruptions in the company, 20 percent of them are reported to be large enough to shut down portions of the business for at least a day or two.
It can be hard to determine the pace at which these attacks are growing since it has been a topic that businesses in Germany have tried to remain quite on. Customers do not like to know that their personal information could be at risk, so the companies have avoided going public if at all possible. In some cases though, companies have been completely unaware of cyber attacks happening on their computers or servers for months if not years. Even the German government had an issue where several employee computers were compromised by foreign hackers for four years before being detected, which resulted in large amounts of data being copied and stolen.
Due to the increased attacks, Germany’s Interior Ministry released their first draft for a new law that would push for “raising the security of IT systems,” and various IT security professionals have begun offering up their own ideas on how German businesses and government agencies can better protect themselves from cyber attacks. Some ideas include making the public more aware on just how often these cyber attacks are occurring, having companies be legally liable for running or releasing software that is not properly secured, and requiring businesses to figure out exactly what type of protection they need instead of taking the easy way out by implementing one-size-fits-all solutions.
Joachim Posegga, chair of IT security at Passau University, commented that one of the largest problems comes from the cost of hiring qualified IT security personnel, many of which are too costly for most small businesses. Most of the large attacks on German companies are coming from China, but there are also a lot smaller attackers that can do serious damage to smaller businesses with hacks that just about anyone with a little time and some resources can pull off from their own computers at home. With all of the various security loopholes and sources of attacks, it is often too much for smaller businesses to keep up with.