25 years secunet

A quarter century for cybersecurity
We have been protecting digital infrastructures for 25 years. On our way to becoming Germany's leading cybersecurity company, we have developed many technologies that today shape the IT security architectures in many public authorities and companies. From SINA to secunet easygate to secustack: our employees, who now number more than 1,000, have continuously developed the product portfolio and our identity and enriched them with their ideas.

We present some of our milestones in the following brief overview of 25 years of company history. But what do Harry Potter, "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" and Facebook have to do with it? Not much, except that they have also made their appearance on the world stage over the past 25 years. So they provide a little temporal context - and perhaps revive a memory or two along the way.

Back to the year secunet was founded. Berlin celebrates the opening of the Reichstag building, the book "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" is published and the Google domain - today the most visited website in the world - is registered.
It is 25 years since secunet emerged as an independent company from TÜV Mitte AG in 1997. Looking at technology at that time, it was almost a digital stone age, and in the excitement about the new possibilities, surely few were thinking about IT security. secunet recognized the opportunity early on and has never since lost sight of its goal at the time, which was to secure IT networks using cryptographic mechanisms.


It is the year 1999. The first standardized Bluetooth version was introduced, the German version of the quiz show "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" started on the TV channel RTL and we observed a total solar eclipse over Germany.

It was a special year for secunet: at the end of 1999, the German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) commissioned us to develop SINA, the Secure Inter-Network Architecture. Following the relocation of the seat of the German government from Bonn to Berlin, the BSI had set itself the goal of replacing inconvenient analog security solutions for classified information with digital technologies. To this end, the BSI drew up a rough concept, and secunet developed the first products. At the beginning of the 2000s, we set up secure VPN networks with SINA L3 boxes as VPN gateways. Initially, computers were connected directly to these. The next step was the development of SINA terminals, which linked a SINA L3 Box and a display component. The way was prepared for the SINA success story.

We're looking back in time again, to the year 2003: the technology world is on the move. Android and the Mozilla Foundation are established. iTunes, LinkedIn and Wordpress go online for the first time.

2003 is also the year the story of the SINA Workstation begins. At that time, the German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) evaluated in a project how a fully equipped high-security PC could be realized. The solution that secunet developed on behalf of the BSI was initially called SINA Virtual Workstation and was based at its core on strongly secured virtualization. Since the necessary high level of security could not be achieved with standard virtualization solutions, secunet cooperated with Innotek. The result was VirtualBox, today one of the best-known open source virtualization solutions.

Today the SINA Workstation is established as a standard workstation in public administration and enables secure work with classified information of various classification levels, both mobile and stationary. Users can switch between differently classified guest systems at the click of a mouse and thus work in parallel in different security domains. The solution is constantly being further developed, and new requirements and technologies are being integrated to continue the success story.

The year is 2009: Barack Obama is inaugurated as the 44th President of the United States, Satoshi Nakamoto introduces Bitcoin and Facebook has overtaken MySpace in user popularity.

At the same time, secunet introduces the eID PKI Suite, in which the company combines its many years of experience with PKIs. A public key infrastructure (PKI) generates digital certificates that can be used to securely prove the identities of people or even machines in the digital world. PKI solutions can also be used to sign and encrypt data and messages.
Whether border control authorities, operators of critical infrastructures, machine builders or vehicle manufacturers - for all of them, the eID PKI Suite is a reliable security framework. In border control, for example, it ensures that the authenticity of identity documents can be determined efficiently, reliably and highly securely. The secunet eID PKI Suite has developed into a proven solution that can be tailored to a wide variety of customer needs.

2014 was the year in which for many Germans a "Sommermärchen" (summer fairy tale) came true and Germany won the Soccer World Cup. In addition to the Ice Bucket Challenge, which collected donations for ALS research at record-breaking speed, Facebook's purchase of WhatsApp dominated the headlines.
It was also the year in which the first secunet easygates were installed. These enable travelers to cross borders quickly and smoothly at airports, for example, thanks to facial and fingerprint verification. The so-called eGates or ABC gates automatically compare the biometric data in the travel document with the live image of the traveler, thus ensuring security. The technology is also helping to relieve staff and keep queues short in the context of the introduction of the European Entry/Exit System EES. More than 450 easygates are now in use at international airports.

2018 was a transformative year. Germany's last coal mine, Prosper-Haniel in Bottrop, ceased operations. In the IT world, too, an era came to an end with the last CeBIT in Hanover. The age of AI, on the other hand, had long since begun: In the East Asian strategy board game Go, the AI AlphaGo developed by Google DeepMind won against Lee Sedol, one of the best Go players in the world.

In the same year, we received approval for the secunet konnektor, which provides secure access to the German telematics infrastructure (TI). The TI is the data highway of the German healthcare system and the basis for digital specialist applications such as the electronic patient file. To date, more than 84,000 secunet konnektor devices have been installed as single-box or data center connectors in doctors' offices, clinics or at other service providers.

What did you do in 2019 - the year in which we celebrated the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the e-scooter made its way onto German roads, and the bidding war for frequencies gave the go-ahead for 5G in Germany?

Neither were we idle: in 2019 we founded the secustack joint venture with Cloud&Heat. Together, we offer cloud software based on OpenStack for secure data processing and storage, which also enables industries and institutions with strict security regulations to enter cloud computing. This operating system is also at the heart of the highly secure classified cloud for armed forces and the defense industry, which we developed together with IBM and Red Hat. With the acquisition of cloud specialist SysEleven GmbH in 2022, we have further expanded our cloud portfolio (more on this below).

2021 was also the year of space: The James Webb Space Telescope was launched into space and is now providing science with significant insights into the nature of the universe. That year also saw Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos compete, with great media hype, to see who would be the first to make it into space.

At secunet, we have generally remained a bit more down-to-earth, but it was still an exciting year for us as well. In 2021, for example, the SINA Communicator H was approved by the German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI). This modern terminal device in the format of a desk phone enables tap-proof voice communication up to the SECRET level, as well as many other functions familiar from a smartphone in the future. Since then, the multicrypto phone has also been used for classified communication by the German federal administration. It is not only the technology that is impressive, the design was also recently honored with the iF DESIGN Award.

While cybersecurity was still a topic for nerds in our founding year of 1997, it has now arrived in many areas of government, business and society with the ongoing digital transformation. The industry sector too is concerned with digital processes and the networking of systems. Operators of factories and plants face the challenge of exploiting the enormous benefits arising from the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) - without at the same time opening up a major gateway for digital threats. That is why we at secunet have increasingly focused on industry in recent years and offer secunet edge, a technology that combines IIoT gateway, firewall and edge computing platform. This allows companies to network their machines and systems for future-proof applications in Industry 4.0 or to retrofit them in terms of security and digitalization.

In 2022, we celebrate our 25th anniversary - and the largest acquisition in secunet's history so far. With the acquisition of SysEleven, we have significantly expanded our offering in the areas of cloud and cloud security.

SysEleven is a German provider of cloud infrastructure, cloud services, managed services and managed Kubernetes. The company has its own open-source based cloud infrastructure with ISO27001 certified data center locations in Germany. We are also adding a team of over 100 proven experts.

Having already developed secustack, an open-source-based cloud operating system for customers who operate their cloud 'on premise', we can now also offer a solution 'as a service' and develop it further together. This is how we ensure trustworthiness and digital sovereignty - now also in the cloud.