We rely on the digital world each and every day. We take it for granted that we can use debit cards to pay for our purchases in supermarkets, that our health data is well protected on computers in doctors’ offices, that we can use smartphones without reserve, and that we get electricity from systems to which smart grids may have just distributed the appropriate amount of energy produced by wind turbines. Wherever we go, we are surrounded by a network of bits and bytes.
However, dangers lurk everywhere as well. Criminal attacks on security gaps can cause considerable damage – whether they result in data theft at hospitals, sabotage in factories, power failures or industrial espionage. That’s why protective walls need to be erected around our digital world. People who need to access mission-critical systems need to identify themselves by biometric means or know the pertinent PIN codes. Moreover, data must be transmitted in encrypted form and protected behind firewalls. Meanwhile, antivirus programs must constantly be on the lookout for malware, and standards such as IEC 62443, which specifies the IT security of automated facilities, must provide guidelines for the protection of critical systems.