The BSI (Federal Office for Information Security) presented its annual report “The Situation of IT Security in Germany”, which covers the period from June 2020 to May 2021 inclusive. […]
In the foreword, BSI President Arne Schönbohm emphasizes that not only the amount of security incidents is cause for concern, but also the constant and rapid development of attack methods, the extent to which software vulnerabilities are exploited, and the often severe consequences of cyber attacks. In fact, the report notes that cybercriminals have significantly increased the production of new malware variants compared to the previous year. If an average of 322,000 new variants per day were known in the reporting period 2020, the daily indicator in 2021 was an average of 394,000 variants per day – an increase of a good 22 percent. In total, attackers have produced around 144 million new malware variants.
An issue that is again important this year: identity theft, for example through phishing attacks. Unsurprisingly, the BSI observed that criminals adapted their campaigns to major social events and crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. The associated uncertainty and the media presence of the topic could be exploited by attackers to reach a larger number of recipients and thus compromise digital identities. Overall, the pandemic played into the cards of the attackers in the area of identity theft: the relocation of many analog activities to the digital space for reasons of infection protection led to a large number of security incidents in the survey period. The BSI notes that the outflow of sensitive data worldwide was a problem in the context of the pandemic – whether through targeted attacks by criminals or through carelessness and inadequate security precautions. As an example, the compromising of personal data in German test centers is mentioned here. Apart from this, there were data leaks in the reporting period at companies such as well-known technology companies, organizations in the field of transport and logistics, public institutions, but also medical practices and clinics as well as social networks.
Interestingly, the federal authority also mentions the IT security situation in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in a sub-item of the survey. It is emphasized here that shortcomings in the area of IT security have clear consequences for Germany as a business location as a whole. In contrast to corporations, SMEs, for example, rarely have their own IT (security) departments. The result is often a lack of competence in the assessment of threats to IT security, in addition, there is often a lack of awareness of IT risks at the decision-maker level. Together with the ever-advancing digitization, these circumstances make medium-sized companies particularly vulnerable to serious cyberattacks.
Overall, the findings of the BSI report are not surprising – after all, in the last year and a half, media reports have accumulated about devastating data breaches and attacks on the IT infrastructure of companies of any industry and size. Nevertheless, the report is once again a reminder that digitization can only succeed with the help of IT security. This also includes the protection of digital identities and sensitive company data. After all, digital identities are a particularly desirable target for cybercriminals, as they often give them access to particularly valuable information. It should be noted that the aspect of identity security is becoming increasingly important and modern companies will no longer do without it. Because: digital transformation is in full swing, companies need to be able to recognize, secure and manage any kind of identity – this includes employees, contractors, suppliers, customers and even non-human users such as machines and bots. With a modern solution in this space, organizations can leverage AI and ML technologies to provide the right access to the right users at the beginning of the onboarding process and throughout a user’s lifecycle, as they transition or leave the organization. With Identity Security, accounts, roles, and permissions can be managed and regulated across all applications, systems, data, and cloud services, while maintaining the same level of consistency and transparency across the enterprise. This allows risks to be better identified, behaviours to be monitored more easily and roles to be refined more efficiently. This is important for SMEs that do not have their own IT (security) department, but also for large corporations whose IT administrators are massively overloaded in the course of remote work and the triumph of cloud technology.
*Volker Sommer is Area VP DACH at SailPoint.