DaimlerChrysler security drive targets 360,000 staff

DaimlerChrysler is rolling out an information security awareness programme to 360,000 staff, as part of a drive to protect the company against a rising tide of online ­attacks.

DaimlerChrysler is rolling out an information security awareness programme to 360,000 staff, as part of a drive to protect the company against a rising tide of online ­attacks.

The firm plans to put background "wallpaper" on PCs, laptops and PDA screens to warn users of threats, give advice on best practice, and inform users what to do if they suspect a problem and where to go for help.

The project has its roots in a worm attack in 2004 that disrupted production in a factory for half a day. The incident persuaded managers to accept responsibility for security and to recognise the need for security awareness, said Claus Lehners, chief information security officer at DaimlerChrysler. "It took a closed plant to get their support," he said.

Lehners said the company detected thousands of attempted attacks every day. "Attackers' motivation is mostly financial or competitive. Theft or loss of information account for more than 50% of incidents.

"Our awareness campaigns are not one-time activities, but recurring actions over a long period. For example, we want staff to think of passwords as they would toothbrushes: don't share it, don't leave it lying around, and don't use it for more than 30 days," he said.

Lehners said measuring the success of awareness activities was one of DaimlerChrysler's most ambitious challenges. "We measure the overall status of information security awareness in our local assessments, which take place at least once a year. Naturally, the fraction of incidents due to employee unawareness is also a KPI."

The company plans to roll out a single sign-on system, which will allow it to authenticate employees and manage their access to applications, including SAP.

"We aim to make identity management independent of the technology platforms," said Lehners.

Alan Butler, vice-president at analyst firm Gartner, supported DaimlerChrysler's approach. "It is a very practical way to bring security policies to end-users," he said.

Robina Chatham, visiting fellow at Cranfield School of Management, said, "They will have to make it cool and fun and exciting, otherwise people will go back to more personal wallpaper and screensavers."




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