Reinhard Ploss has been the chief executive officer of Infineon since 2012. The German firm makes semi-conductors and other components for the IT sector.
In his office at the Infineon headquarters in Neubiberg near Munich, his smartphone suddenly rings and Mr. Ploss jumps up to get it. Only two people would call that number, he says: His wife or his model aircraft dealer. It’s the latter. The 59-year-old is an enthusiastic pilot of miniature helicopters, but today the interview takes priority and he quickly gets down to business.
Handelsblatt: Mr. Ploss, everyone is talking about the “Internet of Things,” the idea of placing computer chips in almost anything – from fridges to cows – to hook them up to the web. At the National IT Summit in Hamburg this week you plan to demonstrate to the German chancellor in just three minutes how data needs to be protected in this environment. It’s an ambitious undertaking, don’t you think?
Mr. Ploss: Three minutes is enough to get the key message across.
And what is that?
Our exhibit shows how we communicate securely in an uncertain environment. The message I want to give the chancellor is that we have a great opportunity and the technical means to build a system in Germany with which, for example, human beings or machines can reliably identify each other in the digital network.
It sounds like science fiction.
No, we’re talking about the present. IT security is the prerequisite for important future issues that are being addressed today. Take, for example, the need to protect identity, business secrets and critical infrastructure such as energy supply against infiltration by hackers. That’s why it’s so important that senders and receivers of information can identify themselves. I’m talking about a sort of identity passport on the Internet.