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Cyber Attack: Offline for 41 Days

Germany’s Heinekingmedia is a specialist for digital signage in education – digital information boards in Elementary, Middle and High Schools. In the summer, cybercriminals attacked Heinekingmedia’s  data center provider. The result: digital screens in more than 12,000 schools went black for 41 days. A textbook case of how cyber-attacks on third party datacenters can take down digital signage networks.

Cyber attacks are usually hidden from the public – which business wants to share the vulnerability of their IT infrastructure? Heinekingmedia CEO Markus Doetsch, obviously frustrated from the way the data center provider handled the incident, shared his negative experience and learnings in an interview with Swiss IT-blog Inside IT.  

Heinekingmedia is the undisputed leader in Germany for education information boards. According to the company, around 12,000 schools in Germany are customers using Samsung digital signage screens for timetables, substitutions, canteen schedules and school related information. In May, Heinekingmedia’s data center provider was hacked. All data on the servers as well as the virtual machines and the backups were encrypted in a cyberattack. As a result, all screens in more than 12.000 schools went black and remained offline for 41 days.

The handling of the security breach of Heinekingmedia’s data center provider Myloc is a text book case, how reliant digital signage provider from third party data center are, regardless how prudent IT security procedures were executed.

Damage of up to 2 million Euros

According to Doetsch, the damage accrued to a sum of 1.5 to 2 million euros. It is still not clear if Heinekingmedia’s cyber insurance will cover all the costs.  Regardless of how Heinekingmedia can recover the damage, the digital signage integrator switched to two new data center providers. The new setup is based on an multi-cloud strategy to spread the risk, and Heinekingmedia recommends auditing external data center provider whether promised redundancies actually exist.