Bochum, 19.03.2021- Bochum again underlines its position as the centre of IT security in Germany and Europe: In order to support medium-sized companies in strengthening their cybersecurity, the state of NRW is setting up the DIGITAL.SICHER.NRW competence centre. The bidding consortium of eurobits e.V.- European Competence Center for IT Security from Bochum and the Cyber Security Cluster Bonn e.V.. (CSCB) was able to prevail over numerous competitors with its bid in a Europe-wide invitation to tender issued by the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Innovation, Digitalization and Energy of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia (MWIDE) and was awarded the contract at the beginning of the year. The competence centre will be financed for an initial period of three years, with a budget totalling three million euros. These funds will be used to establish two offices in Bochum and Bonn, which will offer information and networking services as well as practical guidance on how to improve cybersecurity. The supporting organization is CYBERSEC-NRW gGmbH, a non-profit joint venture of eurobits e.V. and the CSCB explicitly founded for this purpose.
The headquarters of the competence centre will be Bochum. The office, headed by Sebastian Barchnicki, will move into rooms in the center for IT Security, which will be made available by Bochum Wirtschaftsentwicklung. Bochum Wirtschaftsentwicklung was already an important partner during the bidding phase, making a decisive contribution to the two NRW associations' successful application. DIGITAL.SICHER.NRW will be active next to the eurobits e.V. office.
The competence centre's second office in Bonn, headed by Christian Schmickler, ensures perfect coverage for the entire state of NRW right from the start. Just as in Bochum, there is strong support here from the numerous renowned members of the CSCB and the Office for Economic Development of the City of Bonn. "Together with the Cyber Security Cluster Bonn, we have been incorporating all our know-how and that of the strong IT security companies and members of our two associations into our concept for the Competence Center since July 2020," explains Christine Skropke, CEO eurobits e.V. "We are proud that we now have the mandate from the Ministry to establish the Competence Center and will support this with our entire network."
Sebastian Barchnicki, a proven cybersecurity expert with strong roots in the Ruhr region, has been recruited to head and manage the new competence centre. Barchnicki is a graduate and former employee of the Institute for Internet Security | if(is) at Westfälische Hochschule in Gelsenkirchen. He was an employee of secunet AG from 2016 to February 2021, most recently as head of the strategy department.
"Digitization without cybersecurity - that simply does not work," Barchnicki emphasizes. "All companies in NRW must protect themselves effectively against attacks. The economic damage caused by cyberattacks, which can include production downtime, the loss of trade secrets, or the cost of restoring data, is immense - in some cases even threatening the company's very existence. But does that mean giving up on digital transformation? That is also not an option with a view to the future and competitiveness of companies in NRW. We, therefore, need to point out risks in concrete terms and explain how to protect oneself effectively."
This is particularly true for small and medium-sized enterprises, where staffing and financial resources are often inadequate when it comes to IT security. However, in the future, these companies should have better opportunities to obtain information about threats and solutions for their needs in an uncomplicated manner that is appropriate to their own resources and then to implement these solutions.
The competence centre is intended to act as an initial point of contact and provide concrete technical and organizational support for companies in cybersecurity matters. Another focus of the content is to raise awareness among companies, especially those from sectors where IT security has so far had little presence, such as craft, tourism or trade.
At today's MWIDE press conference, Economics and Digital Minister Prof. Dr Andreas Pinkwart emphasized that cybersecurity is more than ever a crucial prerequisite for business success. The centre will bundle the outstanding competencies of North Rhine-Westphalia as a business location and provide small and medium-sized enterprises with comprehensive know-how for digital self-defence. In this way, DIGITAL.SECURE.NRW will contribute to strengthening the resilience of small and medium-sized businesses in North Rhine-Westphalia.
"We are very pleased that Bochum will be one of two locations of the Competence Center for Cybersecurity of the Economy. Once again, the state of NRW is underscoring our expertise in IT security," says Ralf Meyer, Managing Director of Bochum Economic Development. "Our declared goal is to make Bochum the most cyber-secure city in Europe." For more info on the Competence Center, visit www.digital-sicher.nrw.
The tasks of the DIGITAL.SECURE.NRW Competence Center at a glance:
- Information on prevention & first point of contact for cyber issues.
- Assistance in determining needs for basic IT protection
- Specialist events throughout North Rhine-Westphalia
- Target group oriented preparation of cybersecurity topics
- Establishment of a network for cybersecurity administrators
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