The German car giant that gave the world the Beetle may soon help you fend off cyber criminals.
Volkswagen AG teamed with insurer Allianz SE, medical company Bayer AG and chemicals producer BASF SE to sell information-technology security services to firms in Germany starting next year, the companies said in a statement Friday. They plan to set up a Berlin-based venture called DCSO Deutsche Cyber-Sicherheitsorganisation GmbH, with a 25 percent stake each. No investment value was given.
“Attacks on corporate IT systems are increasing, and it’s of interest to Germany’s economy to be prepared,” Lasse Osteneck, a spokesman for Volkswagen, said by phone. “Security is non-negotiable and that’s also true for Volkswagen. We believe the new company is closing a market gap.”
IT security is becoming more important for carmakers such as Volkswagen, with Chief Executive Officer Martin Winterkorn saying this week he seeks to reinvent Europe’s biggest automaker into one providing “smartphones on wheels.” Hackers landed a Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV jeep in a ditch in July and sparked a recall of about 1.4 million cars. By 2020, about 90 percent of new vehicles in western Europe will be connected to the internet, compared with about one-third next year, according to Hitachi Ltd.
German companies lose about 51 billion euros ($58 billion) a year due to cyber crime, with the car, chemicals and pharmaceutical industries most affected, according to the country’s Bitkom technology-industry association. The government is eager to improve Germany’s IT defenses as part of its “digital agenda,” which is also aimed at blanketing the country with high-speed Internet by 2018 and backing the digitalization of industry.
DCSO will cooperate with Germany’s Interior Ministry and the Federal Office for Information Security, and is open to additional partners, Osteneck said.
–With assistance from Chris Reiter in Berlin, Elisabeth Behrmann in Munich and Christoph Rauwald in Frankfurt.
[In a statement to announce the venture, Allianz said DCSO will support companies active in Germany in improving their security architecture and will offer high-quality services to identify cyber risks and repel cyber attacks. Such measures include an early-warning system and security audits to review corporate information security. The first services will be rolled out in 2016. DCSO then plans to develop new security technologies with cooperation partners, said Allianz.]