VINCI Energies, the energy, information and communication technology division of the VINCI Group, is setting up an international security operations center (SOC) in Switzerland with its brands Axians (ICT) and Actemium (industrial technology). As a hub, the SOC will connect more than 300 cybersecurity specialists from Switzerland, Germany and other European countries, focusing on Industry 4.0 security, bundling expertise in information and communications technology (ICT) and industrial operating technology (OT) as well as processing the findings from international scientific collaborations regarding critical infrastructures. The SOC hub in Basel will open on the site of the uptownBasel competence center in the second half of 2021 and will comprise existing local security operations centers in Germany, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Portugal and France. Customers of Axians and Actemium will be able to have their digitally connected businesses secured through Basel and receive immediate intelligence on cross-border digital threats through the international approach.
Data theft, cyber extortion, system failures, espionage, hacker attacks, attacks on production facilities and industrial control systems – as companies become increasingly networked and digitalized, the potential risk of cyberattacks also increases. Threats such as the Emotet ransomware trojan, the WannaCry malware program, the Stuxnet computer worm and hacker attacks on Industry 4.0 infrastructures and networks have increased significantly in recent years, according to the findings of industry associations and analysts. Based on data from the Information Security Society Switzerland, manufacturing companies have also fallen victim to malware attacks and in some cases suffered production downtime. At the same time, organizations are facing great opportunities for their value creation and resilience through remote work, IoT scenarios and artificial intelligence. According to Gartner, by 2025, 40 percent of enterprises are expected to have a cybersecurity management team in place. Various studies by Gartner, Forrester, IDC, and IDG also predict significantly above-average growth in cybersecurity investments over the next few years.
For all these reasons, VINCI Energies is investing specifically in the establishment of an international security operations center (SOC) hub at its Basel site. From there, after opening in the second half of 2021, cybersecurity protection measures will be provided to customers of the VINCI Energies brands Actemium (industrial technology) and Axians (ICT) or coordinated jointly with the existing local SOCs in Germany, the Czech Republic and other European countries.
For manufacturers with established production infrastructures or targeted Industry 4.0 strategies, this is a particularly valuable asset. In Basel, the SOC will monitor organizations’ networked sensors, machines, systems, and devices , analyze security patterns as well as anomalies, and initiate protective measures to ward off potential attacks.
This will be achieved through a cybersecurity control center in the new uptown Basel competence center, staffed 24/7 by experts such as SOC analysts, pentesters, digital forensic experts and ethical hackers. For each customer, processes are defined based on so-called “security playbooks” along with threat intelligence feeds and malware information security platforms in a 24/7 service. The protection of SCADA and MES systems in manufacturing is also offered in a targeted manner. In addition, the latest scientific findings from research and teaching at the universities of Lucerne, Northwestern Switzerland and Stuttgart are incorporated into the activities. Cybersecurity specialists from Axians and Actemium will be active as guest lecturers.
“With our new SOC, we offer comprehensive and in-depth specialist expertise for the cyber threats of our time. We detect, analyze, resolve and document security incidents for our customers there around the clock. With our high prevention rate and focus on ICT & OT security, we are creating a leading European center for cyber security in the age of Industry 4.0 at the Basel site,” said Stefano Camuso, CEO Axians & Actemium Switzerland.
Axians and Actemium already have more than a hundred cyber security customers in Switzerland and Germany, including automotive suppliers, pharmaceutical and med-tech companies, the packaging industry, banks and insurance companies, as well as energy providers such as E.ON subsidiary Avacon. Many of these customers are looking to contract managed security services to increase their level of protection, something that Axians and Actemium are specifically addressing with their German-, English- and French-speaking IT & OT SOC Basel. A key innovation is the company’s own anonymized security database that aggregates security patterns and incidents. As a result, Axians and Actemium provide their customers with superior threat intelligence through statistical analysis and early detection.
Jacques Diaz, CEO Axians Germany, added: “Especially due to the cross-border cooperation of our cybersecurity teams coordinated in Basel, customers benefit from one of the most powerful managed security offerings in the German-speaking region. Security threats are increasingly international and growing in scope. As a result, our highly successful Security Operations Centers in Hamburg and Ulm will work seamlessly with the international SOC Hub Basel, as requested by customers. Our particular strengths in protecting enterprise and carrier networks in Germany will also contribute to further disproportionate growth of the managed cybersecurity business.”
The security operations center in uptownBasel is set to go into operation at the end of August 2021 and will open in the third quarter of 2021. Currently, in addition to the construction progress, the personnel base for managed cybersecurity projects is being further expanded through a recruitment campaign to make the location the leading security operations center in Europe. An innovation center is currently being built by uptownBasel AG on the site of the former Alioth electricity company and locomotive production facility, which will provide 2,000 new jobs in total by 2027. The first 400 engineers are expected as early as summer 2021.
“The uptownBasel campus stands for the digital and connected industry, which is closely linked across borders. We are honored and proud that VINCI Energies is now building the Cybersecurity Center for Switzerland here, thus making business processes and connections more secure in one fell swoop,” said Hans-Jörg Fankhauser, the site developer responsible for the uptownBasel campus in Arlesheim.
An SOC is the physical location of a cyber security team. The team is responsible for ongoing monitoring and analysis of the security status of the customer’s IT/OT system environment and three-layer security architecture. It also detects, actively prevents, and responds to cybersecurity incidents. The security team is composed of security analysts, technicians, managers and industry experts. It works closely with the incident response team, ensuring a rapid response to identified security issues. Not all organizations can operate their own security operations center. There are various reasons to use external SOC services, often companies simply lack the necessary resources. Internal expertise, time and budgets are not available to a sufficient extent.
Caption: Construction progress at uptownBasel (source: uptownBasel)
Caption: In a Security Operations Center, specialized teams of cybersecurity analysts, pentesters, digital forensic experts and ethical hackers monitor customers’ systems around the clock and protect them against attacks. (source: VINCI Energies)
Caption: Stefano Camuso, CEO Axians & Actemium Switzerland (source: Axians & Actemium)
Caption: Jacques Diaz, CEO Axians Germany (source: Axians)