Saturday, 13 May 2017, Nuremberg Central Station. I must say, that really brought back memories. As a kid and teenager, especially in the 80s, I was an absolute railway enthusiast, and for me the place to be back then was the Nuremberg Central Station. There was always something going on; rail cars switching and trains changing rails, rolling into and out of the Central Station. And everything was absolutely fascinating… “Nuremberg Central Station… Nuremberg Central Station…”. The announcements from the loudspeakers of the PA system with that thick Franconian accent brought back a lot of memories on 13 May 2017. There it was again; that thick Franconian accent as a train was rolling in.
But these particular announcements should give us all something to worry about in the long-term. This major cyberattack, perhaps the biggest one of its kind ever, had global implications that were also felt in Germany and by Deutsche Bahn, the German Railway. And the effects were not only visible this time but also audible for a big part of the population. “Nuremberg Central Station, Nuremberg Central Station…”. The impacts of cyberattacks are becoming increasingly more tangible due to the networking of IT systems that connects the office environment to the control systems.
When in Great Britain, for instance, as the press has reported, patients have to be turned away at the emergency ward, one fact becomes absolutely clear: Cyberattacks can be life-threatening and end up deadly!
We must finally wake up: What happens in cyberspace is crime committed by gangs; it is espionage, terrorism and even war! And we are right in the middle of it. “Nuremberg Central Station, Nuremberg Central Station…”. The only relevant question here is if we are ever going to understand that the masterminds behind those schemes, acting out of malice for criminal reasons, political reasons, for ideological or any other reasons, do not really care that their attacks can have and often do have massive negative impacts on our society, our economy, our personal lives, and yes, even on our health and existence!
We need to learn and stop the careless clicking! Today, every link and every attachment can be the gateway to a much bigger and more wicked form of attack. We have to ask ourselves if we have all recognized the risks that lie in wait, and if we are conscious of the fact that we can raise our awareness in handling IT issues. We also have to ask ourselves if those of us in businesses, associations and public offices have actually realized that we have to develop a much more determined and defensive stance! This could sometimes take the form of unusual measures, as it was at Telefonica when the employees were told over their PA system that they should disconnect their computers from the network.
That is why, based on this example, we ask ourselves:
Can we reach our employees fast and directly without having to use email or social-intranet?
Do our employees know how and when to disconnect their computers from the network?
We advocate Organizational Resilience. Stop this careless clicking!