Frankfurt, 2 March 2017. 9:00 a.m. in Germany: traffic lights are failing in large parts of the country, subway trains are being trapped in tunnels below the ground, power outlets are dead, hospitals are running in emergency mode. 9.15 a.m.: traffic chaos on the ground and in the air, stock market panic, bank run. This is a scenario that could well happen every day.
The background: the ever-increasing dimensions of cyber attacks
The hacker attack on Yahoo in the context of which more than a billion customer accounts were hacked has recently become known to constitute the biggest cyber attack in history to date. But German companies, too, are affected by the criminal activities of hackers. Last year, for instance, up to 900,000 routers of Deutsche Telekom were attacked, causing them to fail throughout the country. When faced with these large-scale cyber attacks, one can only hope that just now hackers are not planning any new attacks that would make the lights go out in large parts of Germany tomorrow.
How to counteract this threat: the government must absolutely encourage cybersecurity talents now
“We do not have enough “super brains for IT security” in Germany. These experts are the best in the industry, they are highly talented and motivated beyond compare to catch cyber attackers. They continuously develop their skills and need new challenges in their sphere every day,” says Harald Reisinger, managing director of RadarServices, European market leader in IT security monitoring. “After intense preparations, many countries are beginning right now to implement aggressive strategies in order to attract these “super brains” and offer them perfect working conditions to keep them in the country for the long term,” explains Reisinger.
Take, for example, the USA: since the beginning of 2017, the “Federal Cybersecurity Workforce Strategy“ is being put into practice. It includes extensive measures for fostering the country’s existing cybersecurity staff and grooming new experts. Highly talented persons are specifically encouraged. In collaboration with the national IT security industry, they are offered (further) training opportunities, career paths are devised and an individual working environment is created for them.
Singapore is another example that illustrates this strategy: in encouraging talents, the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore collaborates, among others, with Singtel, the country’s telecommunication group. Also, extensive cooperation initiatives involving leading universities were started some time ago. The most recent project: in February 2017, the six-million US$ “Cybersecurity Lab” project was launched, a test environment for new IT security tools designed by committed researchers and developers.
There is a long list of countries that have begun to take the offensive when it comes to fostering cybersecurity experts. “In Germany, we are lacking specific initiatives by the Government. We recruit international talents for the domestic market, we invest plenty into the careers of our “super brains”, yet we must fear to lose them to foreign employers sooner or later, as they offer them more attractive working conditions. From our point of view, it is already the eleventh hour for high-tech countries such as Germany to aggressively join in the international “war for talents”, making use of their work to protect themselves from extensive blackouts which might already become reality today.”