Prof. Christoph Meinel

In his opening statement at  the 6th Potsdam Conference on National CyberSecurity, Prof. Christoph Meinel, Director of the Hasso Plattner Institute (HPI), outlined the vision of a "Smart World" in which devices and people are in constant communication with each other in an "Internet of Things." Meinel pointed to current forecasts which  predict that 20 billion devices will be connected to one another by 2020. . According to him, smart devices allow for "a mirroring of the physical world in that each entity is given a digital shell." On this newly created level of interaction, distances no longer matter and messages are exchanged at nearly the speed of light.

According to Meinel, however, the fact that "more and more machines are capable of speaking" also opens up new gateways for hackers. In particular,  he emphasized the dangers posed by the integration of large numbers of individual machines into global botnets. Both critical infrastructures and cloud-based systems in business and public administration could become targets of spying and sabotage.    

As part of the Potsdam Conference for National CyberSecurity, the aim is to promote dialogue and raise awareness of technological change processes. "No one can create cybersecurity alone," said the HPI director.  .. International coordination between states is also gaining in importance as a means to "defuse potential international conflicts at an early stage."  Meinel called for a heightening of diplomatic efforts and the creation of new "discreet discussion forums for companies.”

More information on the Hasso Plattner Institute projects presented by Prof. Meinel: