Cybersecurity by design: Germany’s role in outsmarting the hackers

In the age of digital transformation, there are hardly any processes in companies that are no longer supported by IT. Worldwide spending on security-related hardware, software, and services is forecast to reach $91.4 billion in 2018, an increase of 10.2 per cent versus 2017, according to International Data Corporation. The pace of growth is expected to continue in coming years as industries invest in security solutions. Germany aims to become Europe’s leader in digital growth, and the German cyber security market is expected to grow by $5.8 billion from 2013 to 2019, a CAGR of 7.7 per cent, according to Micromarketmonitor.

Germany already leads the way in payment for cybersecurity professionals, according to Willis Towers Watson. Established German players include Rohde & Schwarz, which was set up in the 1930s by two PhD graduates and developed the world's first portable crystal clock. The company has now been active for over 20 years in IT security. The country’s vibrant start-up culture allows the pooling of expert knowledge from business and science. Berlin and Frankfurt each have a FinTech hub, while Cologne and Munich are home to InsurTech hubs. 

Start-ups are providing security solutions for mass markets as well as to corporate clients: ZenMate, started in Berlin in 2013, believed that it unfair for the world’s online population to be mostly unaware that the Internet is often restricted simply because of where you are. Their vision was to simplify online security and make it accessible to everyone. The company’s software encrypts and secures the user's Internet connection and protects privacy while browsing. Investors in ZenMate include T-Venture, Deutsche Telekom's venture arm.

Germany’s cybersecurity partnership with Israel is quickening the pace of change. The Hessian-Israeli Partnership Accelerator (HIPA), created in 2017, is the first project of its kind anywhere. HIPA brings together cybersecurity experts and entrepreneurs from Israel and Germany with potential clients, combining start-up culture with the traditional strengths of Israel in cybersecurity and Germany in applied research.

The program, executed by the Fraunhofer Institute for Secure Information Technology in Darmstadt and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, this year presented new approaches to the quality control of cloud services, the security of Internet infrastructures, and the prevention of spam and denial of service attacks on email accounts. An early fruit of the collaboration is a project called “Routing Security Against Prefix Hijacks”. The routers governing Internet traffic are often vulnerable, as many network operators use unsecured routing protocols. The proposed solution aims to make routing between large parts of the Internet more secure. 

McKinsey argued in a June report that “comprehensive, collaborative governance” rather than fragmented responsibility is the key to managing cybersecurity risk1. Collaboration is an established German hallmark. The country’s role as an exporter of high-technology goods means that cyber security has become an essential component of its economy, not just for protection against external threats but also in ensuring production methods of optimal efficiency. 

Germany’s Alliance for Cyber Security was created in 2012 by the Federal Office for Information Security to exchange information between authorities and companies, and by 2017 had 2,270 participants. Cyber Security Sharing & Analytics (CSSA) was set up in 2014 by Airbus, Allianz, BASF, Deutsche Bank, Deutsche Telekom, Henkel and Infineon to share cyber threat intelligence proactively, overturning the perception that private businesses have little incentive to cooperate in cybersecurity. Collaboration means that ever-present threats are being turned into the opportunities of the future: a little paranoia, it seems, can go a long way.     


1 McKinsey on Risk, June 2018, page 30.