Sunday , 9 June 2024
Home Technology "The biggest problem is always people"

"The biggest problem is always people"

The status report of the Federal Office for Information Security paints a gloomy picture. The danger posed by cybercriminals and state actors is higher than ever in Germany.

How can infrastructures be protected? The first line of defense for IT security is still a locked door, says Michael Resch from the High Performance Computing Center Stuttgart (HLRS) in an interview with With "Hawk", the HLRS operates one of the most powerful supercomputers in the world. What is the biggest security risk at the moment? Virtual hacker attacks?

Michael Resch: No, the biggest problem is always the people. Either those who infiltrate illegally or those who act from within. In IT security, it is generally the case that a system is best cracked from the inside. The worst that can happen is a person who gets so angry with the facility that they say, "I want to harm this facility." She has access to everything and can harm from within. How could someone get in from the outside?

Resch: We had a case like this in Germany when a computer was just about to be installed. That's why not all doors were locked and in fact some came. They stole 20 knots worth about 200,000 euros using a forklift and van. Is that a "worst case scenario", the worst possible attack?

Resch: No. My worst case scenario is that someone takes over and uses the computer. One of the key points in IT security is: The more computer power I have, the easier it is for me to attack a system. And our 26 petaflops high-performance computer can be a very powerful weapon in the wrong hands. To what extent?

Resch: Our system itself is not that valuable. We don't trim critical infrastructure. If we get hacked, there will be no power outages and no people will die. But the damage can still be immense.

I sometimes refer to our computers as "weapon of mass destruction". That may be an exaggeration, but in May 2020 we had a case where someone tried to take over several supercomputers in Europe. That is, someone did not hack these systems in the sense that they tried to extract data from them. No damage was seen, nothing was counted illegally.

But someone installed a small program on these computers, with which one could use these computers. That means whoever that was prepared to have in any case several systems in Europe that he could use for whatever. That means someone hijacked the computers to use them as a weapon?

Resh: Exactly. They then investigated where the hacker came from and found that a German computer was hacked via a Polish account and this via a Chinese one. But we know that the German computer gave access to a Polish colleague, and that probably to a Chinese colleague, and that's why I say: people are the most dangerous thing. That means these attacks have an international dimension. In your opinion, has the security situation changed as a result of Russia's war of aggression?

Resch: No, the threat is not new. The situation with Ukraine has changed our security situation only in the sense that we have to put our cooperation with Russia on hold, but not in the sense that we have to change our work.

We can assume that the intelligence agencies that have such capabilities will use them. And that for a long time. And it doesn't matter whether it's Russian, American or Chinese. Would you say that Germany is well positioned when it comes to IT security?

Resch: Well, it's like the Bundeswehr. It's an ongoing process. The question is always what my opponent's offensive weapon is and how I can react to it. And things are constantly changing. We hedge against what we know. Against viruses that are smuggled in and much more. What you don't know is which new variants and methods the other side is developing.

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Articles


Apple’s App Store Achieves $1.1 Trillion in Total Billings and Sales in 2022

Over 90 Percent of Billings and Sales Benefitted Developers More than 90...


Tech Sector Grapples with Rising Interest Rates

Changing Economic Climate and the Tech Sector The tech industry’s recent unease...

Global EconomyTechnology

Nvidia’s Financial Forecast Sparks Interest in AI among Bitcoin Miners

Nvidia's strong financial forecast, largely credited to increased demand for AI-powered hardware,...


Urbit, an Older and Quirky Peer-to-Peer Network, Shifts Focus Towards Growth

Urbit’s Mission Urbit seeks to provide a generalized and user-controlled internet experience....