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Ignoring cyberrisks can kill the business

By Natalia Oropeza, CCSO Siemens AG

Why is it fundamentally important for a company to pay enough attention to Cybersecurity? Because otherwise, it runs the risk of not surviving the next few years.

Smartphones, online shopping, Netflix, Apple Pay… the list of exciting opportunities offered by digitalization is seemingly endless. However, as these innovative digital systems become more prevalent in our everyday lives, so do the digital threats.

The same challenges apply to the digitalization of industry – even if the applications look a little different to the ones we use in our personal lives. As the digital landscape changes, so does the awareness for cybersecurity.

Why Siemens Must Assume a Lead Role

As the company is in a position to lead industrial digitalization and automation, Siemens recognized early on that cybersecurity would be an integral part of the digital revolution. For example, the industrial Internet of Things (IoT) would be inconceivable without cybersecurity. The companys’ customers want advanced digitalization. But without protection against cybercrime, innovative digital solutions are at risk.

©Siemens Natalia Oropeza, Chief Cybersecurity Officer, Siemens AG

In other words: Siemens’ digital products and IoT services will only succeed if the company can offer them with the best possible protection from data theft and attacks.

Without Cybersecurity, Nothing is Safe

The reason for secure digital systems is simple: IoT is the driving technology behind the digitalization of industry, and the driver for nearly all Siemens business fields.

The future of manufacturing, for example, is made possible by the way machines talk to each other. Operational Technologies are informed and governed by software and connectivity. Without protection, hackers can gain access to confidential information such as product designs, halt operations, and disrupt the supply chain.

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IoT also allows Siemens to shape Smart Infrastructures with intelligent devices and plays a crucial role in establishing sustainable, forward-thinking Smart Cities. Here, digital systems are used to control many of the utilities and services that make these cities function. This can include smart metering, real-time analytics, monitoring solutions for pollution, healthcare services and the infrastructure and operation of power grids. Should the integrity of any one of these systems be compromised by a malicious software attack, the consequences could be devastating.

  • Imagine, for instance, you’re in a hospital in the emergency room. If your patient data is manipulated even a little, you could end up getting the wrong medication.
  • Or suppose there’s a blackout in your city. It’s hard to imagine just how much your daily life would be affected. But you can be sure of one thing: The lack of coffee or an ice-cold shower would be the least of your worries.

A Holistic Approach

Ignoring cyber risks can kill the business. And Siemens would not survive the next years without cybersecurity.

That’s why we have developed a holistic approach to cybersecurity, one which helps us to protect its infrastructure, as well as its products, solutions and services as much as possible.  In this context it’s not only about deploying technology or increasing investment in infrastructure. You need to do it in the right way, especially where OT is concerned. You have to understand the whole context and environment.

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So, as you can see, there’s much more to cybersecurity than simply installing a new antivirus. Even when the solutions are in place, the work doesn’t end there. The advantage Siemens has over a company that only provides malware protection is that the company knows its customers and the industry, it knows which attacks are specific to Operational Technology (OT), and it understands the way digital systems impact the products and services our customers offer.

Cybersecurity affects everybody – it’s not a task that my team and I can manage for Siemens all by ourselves. We’ll only make Siemens really secure once, for instance, passwords are assigned that meet the highest standards, and aren’t just ‘123456’. This is why we also need our employees to be aware of cybersecurity, and why we must improve training – including on the customer’s end.

Siemens AG is a global technology powerhouse that has stood for engineering excellence, innovation, quality, reliability and internationality for more than 170 years. Active around the world, the company focuses on intelligent infrastructure for buildings and distributed energy systems and on automation and digitalization in the process and manufacturing industries. Siemens brings together the digital and physical worlds to benefit customers and society. Through Mobility, a leading supplier of intelligent mobility solutions for rail and road transport, Siemens is helping to shape the world market for passenger and freight services. Via its majority stake in the publicly listed company Siemens Healthineers, Siemens is also a world-leading supplier of medical technology and digital health services. In addition, Siemens holds a minority stake in Siemens Energy, a global leader in the transmission and generation of electrical power.

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