Interview with Jürgen Paulmichl

In this interview, Jürgen Paulmichl, Chief Cyber-/IT-Security Officer at ZF Friedrichshafen, a global technology company supplying systems for passenger cars, commercial vehicles, and industrial technology, enabling the next generation of mobility, shares his insights on cyber resilience, best practices for preventing human error in cyber security, and AI-based cyber security.

Taking care of roughly 240 plants in 46 countries, Jürgen was a panelist in a session entitled “What does successful cultural change around cyber resilience look like?” together with Bart Kulach, CIO at NN Life and Pensions Turkey, and Raphael Reischuk, Head of Cyber Security Services at Zühlke at the Global Cyber Conference 2022.

Cyber security focuses on protecting data, however, it’s no longer sufficient, meaning that businesses need cyber resilience. What does cybersecurity resilience mean to you, and how can businesses achieve it?

For us, cyber security resilience means that the organization as a whole is resilient to cyberattacks. In addition to the basics such as offline backup and the corresponding restart concepts, it also requires the awareness and resistance of the people involved to external attempts at manipulation with the aim of compromising the integrity of the system.

Almost all successful cyber breaches share one variable in common which is human error. What are the best practices for preventing human errors and security mistakes? 

Human error can only be managed with stable processes such as the “four-eyes principle”, e.g. in the case of bank account changes or mandatory verification via a second independent communication channel. This requires mandatory, target group-specific, focused cyber awareness training – from ordinary employees up to enterprise system administrators.

What do you consider to be the biggest hurdle for organizations in the fight against ransomware? 

The human risk must be minimized through multi-stage technical measures and, above all, the reaction time to detection must be kept short. Effective isolation can only be achieved if appropriately fast and effective detect and defense processes and technologies are in place.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are playing an increasing role in cyber security. But can AI-based cyber security be a complete replacement for human security staff? 

No, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are becoming indispensable tools for the responsible actors, but they cannot support far-reaching decisions, including emergency shutdowns or emergency disconnection of networks.