IT Secu­ri­ty Act 2.0: BSI publishes new gui­dance for companies

With the IT Secu­ri­ty Act 2.0 and the amend­ments to the Act on the Fede­ral Office for Infor­ma­ti­on Secu­ri­ty (BSIG) con­tai­ned the­r­ein, Ger­man legis­la­tors intro­du­ced com­pa­nies of spe­cial public inte­rest (also known as UBIs or UNBÖ­FIs). In order to pro­vi­de affec­ted com­pa­nies an over­view of their rights and obli­ga­ti­ons, the Fede­ral Office for Infor­ma­ti­on Secu­ri­ty (BSI), as the com­pe­tent super­vi­so­ry aut­ho­ri­ty, has published FAQs (only in Ger­man). The fol­lo­wing is a sum­ma­ry of the key mes­sa­ges from the agen­cy infor­ma­ti­on and our recom­men­da­ti­ons for implementation.

What are com­pa­nies of spe­cial public interest?

Com­pa­nies of spe­cial public inte­rest are defi­ned in § 2(14) BSIG (only in Ger­man). The Act distin­gu­is­hes bet­ween the fol­lo­wing three cate­go­ries of companies:

  • Pur­su­ant to § 2(14)1 BSIG, com­pa­nies are encom­pas­sed “that manu­fac­tu­re or deve­lop goods in accordance with § 60(1), Nos. 1 and 3 of the For­eign Trade and Pay­ments Ordi­nan­ce, as amen­ded.” This includes, in par­ti­cu­lar, com­pa­nies from the field of wea­pons, arma­ments or ammu­ni­ti­on pro­duc­tion, as well as manu­fac­tu­r­ers of pro­ducts that pro­du­ce IT secu­ri­ty func­tions for pro­ces­sing of sen­si­ti­ve mat­ters or sup­p­ly essen­ti­al com­pon­ents for them.
  • § 2(14)2 BSIG encom­pas­ses com­pa­nies “which, in terms of their dome­stic value added, are among the lar­gest com­pa­nies in Ger­ma­ny and are the­r­e­fo­re of con­sidera­ble eco­no­mic importance for the Fede­ral Repu­blic of Ger­ma­ny”. Howe­ver, the pre­cise eco­no­mic indi­ca­tors for iden­ti­fy­ing the com­pa­nies con­cer­ned have yet to be defi­ned by legal ordi­nan­ce. As soon as the legal ordi­nan­ce is available, the Fede­ral Minis­try of the Inte­ri­or will publish the uni­que sel­ling pro­po­si­ti­ons for the sup­pli­ers of the affec­ted com­pa­nies, which are also encom­pas­sed. Encom­pas­sed sup­pli­ers must then also com­ply with the requi­re­ments for com­pa­nies of spe­cial public interest.
  • Pur­su­ant to § 2(14)3 BSIG, com­pa­nies of spe­cial public inte­rest may also be “the ope­ra­tors of an upper-tier ope­ra­ting area in the terms of the Major Inci­dents Ordi­nan­ce” or com­pa­nies equi­va­lent to the­se in accordance with § 1(2) of the Major Inci­dents Ordi­nan­ce (only in German).

The requi­re­ments for com­pa­nies of spe­cial public inte­rest are not rele­vant to ope­ra­tors of cri­ti­cal infra­struc­tures, sin­ce a com­pa­ny can­not be an ope­ra­tor of a cri­ti­cal infra­struc­tu­re and a com­pa­ny of spe­cial public inte­rest at the same time. Howe­ver, the BSI empha­si­zes in its FAQ that each com­pa­ny, i.e., each legal enti­ty, in a group of com­pa­nies is con­side­red separately.

What legal obli­ga­ti­ons must be observed?

Com­pa­nies sub­ject to § 2(14)1 BSIG or § 2(14)2 BSIG must com­ply in par­ti­cu­lar with the fol­lo­wing legal requirements:

  • obli­ga­ti­on to regis­ter for desi­gna­ti­on as a cont­act point (§ 8f(5) BSIG) (only in German)
  • obli­ga­ti­on to report secu­ri­ty inci­dents (§ 8f(7) BSIG)(only in German)
  • obli­ga­ti­on to make a self-certification on IT secu­ri­ty every two years (§ 8f(1), Nos. 1 to 3 BSIG) (only in German)

It should be noted, howe­ver, that com­pa­nies under § 2(14)1 BSIG must com­ply with the new obli­ga­ti­ons as ear­ly as 1 May 2023 (§ 8f (1) and (4), Sen­tence 1 and (7) BSIG), while com­pa­nies under § 2(14)2 BSIG must do so no ear­lier than two years after issu­an­ce of the legal ordi­nan­ce that has not yet been issued (§ 8f (1) and (4), Sen­tence 2 and (7) BSIG).

For com­pa­nies under § 2(14)3 BSIG, the­re is neither an obli­ga­ti­on to regis­ter nor an obli­ga­ti­on to sub­mit a self-certification on IT secu­ri­ty. Howe­ver, vol­un­t­a­ry regis­tra­ti­on in accordance with § 8f(6) BSIG is pos­si­ble. Howe­ver, as ear­ly as 1 Novem­ber 2021, com­pa­nies will have to report inci­dents that meet the defi­ni­ti­on of § 8f(8) BSIG to the BSI wit­hout delay.

What should com­pa­nies do in light of the new requirements?

In its cur­rent recom­men­da­ti­ons, the BSI focu­ses very stron­gly on the legal dead­lines, but recom­mends that com­pa­nies “[…] con­ti­nuous­ly impro­ve and increase their own IT secu­ri­ty level at all times and for each com­pa­ny” due to the IT secu­ri­ty situa­ti­on. Our con­sul­ting prac­ti­ce also shows that the­re is still con­sidera­ble uncer­tain­ty among many com­pa­nies as to whe­ther and to what ext­ent they must obser­ve and imple­ment the IT Secu­ri­ty Act 2.0. Based on this, we advi­se com­pa­nies to imple­ment cyber­se­cu­ri­ty com­pli­ance manage­ment that allows for stra­te­gic imple­men­ta­ti­on of legal cyber­se­cu­ri­ty requi­re­ments, even bey­ond the IT Secu­ri­ty Act 2.0.

Sum­ma­ry

With the publi­ca­ti­on of infor­ma­ti­on on the obli­ga­ti­ons for com­pa­nies of spe­cial public inte­rest, the BSI is con­ti­nuing its infor­ma­ti­on cam­paign on the IT Secu­ri­ty Act 2.0. In this respect, the fre­quent­ly asked ques­ti­ons now published sup­ple­ment the infor­ma­ti­on alre­a­dy pro­vi­ded on the vol­un­t­a­ry IT secu­ri­ty mark. From a busi­ness per­spec­ti­ve, the BSI’s publi­ca­ti­on of addi­tio­nal infor­ma­ti­on is express­ly wel­co­me, as it allows com­pa­nies to bet­ter prepa­re for the imple­men­ta­ti­on of regu­la­to­ry requi­re­ments and the asso­cia­ted inter­pre­ta­ti­ons of the BSIG as part of their cyber­se­cu­ri­ty com­pli­ance manage­ment. At the same time, howe­ver, the new infor­ma­ti­on also demons­tra­tes the incre­asing com­ple­xi­ty of regu­la­to­ry requi­re­ments for cyber­se­cu­ri­ty and the asso­cia­ted chal­lenges for companies.

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