Bonn On Wednesday, the Bonn location of the competence center for cybersecurity for the economy in NRW was opened. It is jointly supported by the "Cyber Security Cluster Bonn" and the Bochum IT association "eurobits".
"Stucco is our passion," writes Michael Christmann on the homepage of his craft business. At Stuck Belz, they have been restoring old buildings to their former glory since 1948 - today with 21 employees and now in the fourth generation. Even though a lot is still done by hand on the facades in Bonn and the region, Christmann can no longer imagine his company without IT. He uses digital channels in his dealings with customers and employees, and protects his data with passwords and backups. Nevertheless, Christmann has never asked himself whether this would make his company a target for hackers or criminals. "We all have far too much to do and hardly any expertise when it comes to these topics," the craftsman admits, even though he has already received several awards as a digital pioneer.
That's why the Digital sicher NRW initiative, a cybersecurity competence center for the state's business community, is intended to give small and medium-sized companies like Stuck Belz in particular a helping hand. On Wednesday, the project of Cybersec-NRW gGmbH was launched at a reception in the Bonner Bogen. It is jointly supported by the Cyber Security Cluster Bonn association and the Bochum-based IT association eurobits. The eight full-time employees are divided between the two locations.
Raising awareness of the problem in small companies
Digital security must be given a much higher priority, emphasized Economics Minister Andreas Pinkwart (FDP), whose ministry is now fully funding the project with three million euros for an initial period of three years following a Europe-wide invitation to tender last year. After that, the state and federal government will have to continue their financial commitment, Pinkwart announced with a view to a possible extension. In its work, the small team can rely on existing networks and the support of the two local cities. Cybersecurity is strategically relevant for the Bonn region, explained the Chief Digital Officer of the city of Bonn, Friedrich Fuß.
The tools for this are largely ready, emphasized the two new managing directors Sebastian Barchnicki and Christian Schmickler. With concrete handouts and explanatory videos, with an "open consultation hour" and competence meetings for users, they want to bring the topic more strongly, especially to small companies. This involves not only IT knowledge, but also the right approach. So the two bosses have also brought expertise in German studies, political science, psychology and event management into the team.
New business fields for start-ups
In most cases, the focus is not on high-security solutions. These are too large for many companies, emphasized Christiane Skropke from the eurobits board. Conscious password management, transparent documentation and reliable backups are already a solid foundation. The providers of IT security solutions have so far shown too little interest in this area of business, she noted critically. Here, there are no lucrative long-term consulting contracts or weeks of training as in big industry. New business areas could emerge, especially for startups in NRW.
Concepts for training digital first responders are also under discussion. Just as almost every business trusts a trained tax consultant, Pinkwart outlined that he would also like to see consultants for digital security in the future. So that master plasterer Christmann can continue to worry more about crumbling facades than digital burglars in the future.
(Original text: Martin Wein; Translation: Mareike Graepel)