Expert opinion: how dangerous are cyber risks for industry?

Natalia Oropeza, Siemens


By Natalia Oropeza, Chief Cybersecurity Officer at Siemens AG

Why is it so fundamental for companies to pay enough attention to cybersecurity? Quite simply because otherwise they run the risk of not surviving economically for the next few years.

Smartphones, online shopping, Netflix, Apple Pay – the list of possibilities offered by digitization is long. However, to the same extent as these innovative digital systems establish themselves in our everyday lives, so do the digital threats.

The same challenges also apply to the digitization of industry – even if the applications there look a little different than in our private lives. The awareness of the topic of cybersecurity is therefore closely linked to the changes in the digital landscape.

Why Siemens must take a leadership role

Due to its leading position in industrial digitization, Siemens recognized early on that cybersecurity is an integral part of the digital revolution. For example, the industrial Internet of Things (IoT) would be inconceivable without cybersecurity. Siemens sees this every day in its dealings with its customers, how much they are concerned with the topic. Everyone wants to advance digitization. But without adequate protection against cybercrime, these innovative digital solutions are at risk.

In other words, companies like Siemens can only be successful with their digital products and IoT services if they also offer the best possible protection against data theft and attacks.

Nothing is secure without cybersecurity

The argument in favor of secure digital systems is simple: The Internet of Things is the driving force behind the digitization of industry and therefore behind many of Siemens’ business areas.

The future of production, for example, is made possible primarily by the communication between the machines. The control of the operating technology is based on software and connectivity. Without adequate protection, hackers can gain access to confidential information such as product development data, disrupt operations and paralyze the entire supply chain.

The Internet of Things also enables Siemens to equip infrastructures with intelligent devices and thus plays a crucial role in building sustainable, smart cities. There, digital systems are mainly used to control the facilities and services that keep these cities running. This also includes smart metering, real-time analysis, monitoring solutions in the field of environmental pollution, health care as well as the infrastructure and operation of power grids. Should malware compromise the integrity of any of these systems, the consequences could be devastating.

  • Just imagine that you were admitted to a hospital as an emergency and that your patient data was slightly tampered with beforehand. Administering the wrong medication could result, with potentially catastrophic results.
  • Or imagine if your city was hit by a blackout. The consequences for your everyday life are hard to imagine. One thing is certain, however: the lack of coffee or a cold shower in the morning would still be your smallest problem.

A holistic approach

Ignoring cyber risks could destroy business. And: Without cybersecurity, Siemens would hardly survive the next ten years.

That is why we have developed a holistic approach in the field of cybersecurity that protects its infrastructure, products, solutions and services as well as possible. It’s not just about providing technology or increasing investment in infrastructure. In OT environments in particular, it is also about how. To do this, you have to consider the entire context and the entire environment.

In short, cybersecurity is about so much more than installing a new anti-virus program. Because even if the solutions are already installed, that is far from being the end of it. Siemens’ advantage over conventional providers of antivirus programs is that the company knows the industry and its customers. It knows what specific risks OT environments are exposed to. And it understands how digital systems influence its customers’ products and services.

Cybersecurity concerns everyone, it is not a task that I and my team can do alone for Siemens. We only make Siemens really secure if, for example, passwords are assigned according to the highest standards and are not simply ‘123456’. Therefore, for us as Siemens, as for all other companies, the following applies: We have to raise our employees’ awareness of the topic of cybersecurity and continue to improve training, also on the customer side.

Find out more about the importance of cybersecurity in the Siemens Cybersecurity Podcast

Further information on cybersecurity at Siemens:


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