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What is IT security?

IT security covers all measures to protect IT. The three classic goals of IT protection are the long-term preservation of the confidentiality, integrity and availability of information and systems.

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IT Security: A Definition

IT security is the practice of safeguarding information technologies, including hardware and software, to ensure the secure processing and communication of information. Companies have a legal obligation to develop and implement IT security concepts. Implementing these concepts in the business sector is not optional, but rather a matter of compliance.

In addition to guidelines such as ISO 27001, COBIT or ITIL, specific laws, regulations and guidelines also ensure that companies are aware of their areas of action and responsibility with regard to information security.

Company information must be reliably protected in terms of availability, confidentiality, integrity and authenticity. Compliance with data protection and information security laws is therefore essential in order for a company to be legally compliant.



Why Is IT Security so Important?

Government, economy, and society are highly interconnected. Industry 4.0, digital public administration, and smart home concepts have become part of everyday life. It is crucial to maintain high standards of confidentiality in digital communication. Sensitive data must be protected against attacks, theft, or sabotage at all times using state-of-the-art technology. It is important for every company and individual to be aware of this threat and take appropriate measures.


What Attack Methods and Dangers Threaten IT Security?

Different types of attack methods and vectors test the IT security of systems. According to a recent Gartner analysis, Distributed Denial of Service Attacks (DDoS) are the most widespread. Organizations from all sectors are increasingly exposed to powerful DDoS attacks due to geopolitical factors in recent years.


Aside from DDoS attacks, automated bot attacks on (cloud) applications and underlying databases, malware, and ransomware pose significant IT security risks to companies.


This article will cover the most pressing cyber risks that demand dedicated IT security systems to defend against them.


Botnets are one of the most common weapons used by cyber criminals. Botnets are branched networks of compromised end devices such as notebooks, network printers, IP cameras and IoT devices that are controlled remotely by attackers. Cyber criminals use botnets to carry out DDoS attacks, brute force attacks, credential stuffing, credential cracking or click fraud, among other things. To protect against these and many other types of attack, IT security service providers offer various solutions to protect online processes, user accounts and clients.


The term malware covers all types of computer programs that carry out unwanted or harmful actions in a system. These include computer viruses, worms, trojans, spyware and adware. In most cases, malware reaches target systems via malicious email attachments or manipulated websites. IT security solutions for endpoint protection can prevent such infections.


Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts a system and demands payment in exchange for access to the data. It is also referred to as a blackmail Trojan or encryption Trojan. WannaCry and Petya are among the most well-known types of ransomware. Common distribution channels for ransomware include spam emails, phishing, and drive-by exploits. The latter exploits vulnerabilities in browsers, browser plug-ins, or operating systems.

Spam and Phishing

Spam refers to unsolicited emails and is a common method of spreading malware. Phishing emails, however, are a specific type of spam that attempt to persuade the recipient to take a particular action, such as disclosing login or bank details or installing malware. To effectively combat spam and phishing, IT security solutions that incorporate awareness training and simulation attacks to sensitize employees to these threats are recommended.


What Is the Current IT Security Threat Situation for Companies?

Every day, companies are falling victim to cybercrime. Recent studies reveal that 9 out of 10 companies in Germany have been affected by cyber attacks. More than half of all companies feel that their existence is at risk due to this threat. According to the digital association Bitkom, cyber incidents cause over 200 billion euros worth of damage to the German economy each year.


As the threat situation worsens, regulatory requirements are becoming increasingly strict. European security directives, such as NIS-2, as well as EU regulations DORA and the Cyber Resilience Act, require organizations across all sectors to implement the necessary measures to maintain an appropriate level of protection.


Against this background, the topic of IT security is being pushed from two poles: On the one hand, the threat situation requires better protection of systems and data, and on the other hand, regulation obliges companies to do so.


IT Security Is a Management Issue

In many companies, IT systems must function flawlessly at all times in order to maintain business operations. This makes cybersecurity business-critical and a core management task. Regulatory requirements from NIS-2, DORA and the GDPR increasingly establish the liability of management organizations in connection with IT security incidents.


The measures required to establish solid IT security can be derived from the applicable regulatory requirements and the industry-specific security standards (B3S), among other things. In addition, the BSI IT-Grundschutz Compendium, together with the BSI standards, provides detailed information on ensuring the protection objectives.


How Can Companies Increase Their IT Security?

When expanding IT security in companies, it is important to address security-relevant problem areas in digital business processes with equal priority. Regardless of whether these affect software, hardware or the users themselves. Companies that take IT security into account for all active players in the process can keep the virtual attack surface as small as possible. Specifically, seamless programs, tamper-proof hardware, trained users and scalable IT security solutions are required.

Secure Program Code

In software development, security by design refers to the basic concept of incorporating holistic IT security as an integral part of the initial project planning right through to the final product. Programs developed under this premise are less likely to have critical vulnerabilities and are less susceptible to external attacks. In addition, development is more cost-effective, as the subsequent implementation of security-specific changes via updates is usually much more expensive. On the other hand, those who address IT security problems as early as possible in the development process do not have to make extensive adjustments to the code later on.

The Human Firewall

However, IT security does not end with the program code, because even the most capable developers cannot program software that is completely immune to user errors. Rather, the person in front of the screen must also be considered in a holistic IT security strategy. It is not without reason that the BSI specifications for ISO 27001 auf Basis von IT-Grundschutz specify concrete requirements for sensitizing and training staff. The international regulations for payment transactions PCI-DSS also provide for awareness training for all employees.

The most pressing awareness topics include: Password security, advantages of multi-level login procedures such as 2FA/MFA, advantages and use of data encryption, phishing and social engineering as well as identification of attacks and malware infestation.

Hardware Security

IT security also plays a crucial role at the hardware level. This is especially important in the areas of IoT and IIoT & Industry 4.0. When selecting hardware, companies should limit themselves to the previously defined minimum requirements to avoid unnecessarily increasing the network's attack surface. For instance, is a USB port necessary for the device to function, or does the interface provide an unnecessary entry point for attackers?

Protection Against Manipulation

The hardware used must also have a minimum level of tamper protection to make it more difficult for attackers to access the network. This includes permanently installed housing covers and sensors that immediately report physical tampering attempts. Tamper protection is especially important for devices installed in public spaces, where access protection is not guaranteed as it is in offices, production facilities, or factory halls.

Redundancy Protects Against Failures

Hardware problems or defects caused by external factors such as floods or fires cannot be completely prevented. Therefore, it is recommended to run critical applications on redundantly secured hardware. In case of a server failure due to hardware defects, another instance can take over its processes to avoid costly downtime. Companies can also eliminate location-related failures by using geo-redundancy.

Lifecycle Management

Setting up and configuring devices and software is not a one-time task. Companies often need to adapt or expand their networks due to increasing demands on IT security and new business processes. Additionally, individual endpoints require maintenance and replacement. To keep track of your network, detailed lifecycle management for deployment, decommissioning, onboarding to the cloud, and maintenance (software and hardware) is necessary. To prevent uncontrolled data loss, data on retired devices must be irretrievably deleted.

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IT Security: What You Need to Know

IT security addresses all relevant problem areas that arise when using IT in professional and private environments. Users, software, and hardware are all equally important for reliable IT security. To achieve the primary protection goals of confidentiality, integrity, and availability, these issues must be treated equally.


Established certifications for IT security have for many years specified concrete requirements in all of these areas. It is time for these best practice models to be actively implemented in the digitalized society, regardless of the regulatory framework.

Frequently Asked Questions About IT Security