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  • Dear Readers!

    Many people will be looking at their calendar with a feeling of disbelief that this turbulent year is already coming to a close. 2021 has been a year that will remain in our memories for a long time to come. Here in Germany, the devastating floods that hit the state of Rhineland-Palatinate and parts of North Rhine-Westphalia were a strong reminder that we finally have to up our efforts and take some serious steps to curb climate change. And while the people living in the affected regions are still clearing up the rubble – also thanks to the rapid help from the circular economy – and working to rebuild their lives, the world met in Glasgow to argue about whether or not to phase out coal. At the same time, covid came back again with a vengeance this autumn. Hesitant politicians and organisational failure came up against a waning vaccine immunity and vaccine scepticism among a minority of the population, who seem determined to ignore scientific facts. And, this year was an election year – the end of the Chancellor Merkel era – and a perfect storm had been brewing in a political vacuum as the slow-moving coalition talks meant the new Government could not take up the reins. It is high time that the right course is set – in politics, in the economy and in society.

    Faced with such difficult situations, it is then almost a minor miracle that our family business has – together with and thanks to our partners and customers – had an exceptionally good year. Much of this can be put down to the global economy restarting in the spring after the strict covid measures were provisionally lifted. The flipside of unrestrained production activities and a highly charged global trade, though, soon became evident: a general shortage of raw materials. Anyone trying to build a house and get hold of timber or plastic pipes in 2021 certainly know all about this problem. As the year drew to an end, it was even difficult to get hold of recycling sacks because, being in such high demand, there is a shortage of recycled plastic pellets.  

    Which brings us to the subjects that unite the essence of the two previous paragraphs: climate action and resource conservation. The wide range of services that our company delivers plays a major role in helping to solve the problems mentioned above. By recycling materials, producing renewable energy and offering sustainable services, we are easing both problems at the same time. Each tonne of raw material recycled by our company not only conserves virgin resources but also cuts large volumes of carbon emissions. Along the way, we are also gradually switching over to climate-neutral logistics. Inspired, by the way, as well by our sister company Transdev, which already deploys whole fleets of electric buses in many cities around the world – a role model and an incentive for us to do even more.

    And so there is some good news as well at the end of this eventful year – and we would like to thank you all for the great collaboration work that made this possible. May we also take this opportunity to wish you a happy Christmas and all the very best for the coming year.

    Yours

    Ludger Rethmann

Spam emails can be tricky to identify

They are easy to spot: emails full of grammatical errors trying to entice people to click on a link and reveal sensitive data. But let’s be honest: some of these so-called phishing mails are more difficult to detect and, with the stress and strains of everyday life, all too often we’ve clicked on the link before recognising the danger.

Billions of euros worth of damage!

  • This is certainly one of the reasons why phishing and other kinds of scams cost the German economy a total of 223 billion euros every year. This was the latest figure published by the German IT association, BITKOM. In the same study, the association reports that almost one-fifth of all German companies have suffered losses as a result of phishing. According to industry experts, practically every single company in the country is at risk. Which is why having a professional risk management system in place is essential to ward off such attacks.

    REMONDIS IT Services is responsible for such systems at REMONDIS. Information security officer Jan Ellermann made it very clear that the cyberattacks targeted at firms are not the same as the mass-market campaigns sent to private individuals: “The attacker chooses a specific target, spends some time preparing their attack and then systematically searches for weak spots.”

    • A phishing mail – not all of them are instantly recognisable as scam mails

A multi-layered approach

    For an anti-phishing protection system to be a success, therefore, it must contain several well-coordinated measures. Three filters are currently being used at REMONDIS: all incoming emails are first automatically screened and filtered in line with the company’s latest criteria – to prevent any suspicious mails from being delivered in the first place.

    A small number of mails, however, still manage to slip through the net. It is now up to the recipient to pick up and delete fake mails. REMONDIS IT regularly holds online seminars for the approx. 13,000 in-house users to raise awareness and help them identify suspicious mails. The IT department also sends out test mails. If the recipient clicks on this fake phishing mail, then they are immediately sent information explaining why it was a scam email: this should help them to spot such mails in the future.

    REMONDIS is also planning to introduce a notification procedure that will allow employees to highlight any fake emails they find in their inbox. This phishing button will be part of a self-learning system that should enable any changes in the behaviour of attackers to be incorporated into the company’s defence strategy more quickly.

Security systems should the worst come to the worst

  • Security systems are also in place, of course, if the worst comes to the worst: technical measures make it possible for REMONDIS IT to stop data being transferred if someone accidently clicks on a phishing mail or even enters data onto a fake platform. Thanks to these various procedures, REMONDIS has succeeded so far in avoiding serious damage. Around 124,000 mails are sent to the company every day, of which approx. 27,000 are phishing or spam mails. Jan Ellermann stressed: “If we are to continue to be successful, then our employees need to be on the alert all the time. And we have to make sure we develop the right technology to stay ahead of the game. This is what our team is working on each and every day.”

    • Well-trained employees are needed to tackle the problem of phishing: REMONDIS has an online course on its e-learning platform to teach its staff about these emails

Phishing mails

    • Phishing is a portmanteau combining the words ‘password’ and ‘fishing’. Their goal: to lure people into revealing their login data so that the attackers can make transactions in the user’s name or steal their data. Such mails copy the design and language of the supposed sender. There are a number of clues, though, to help spot a phishing mail:

    •  The message creates a sense of urgency
    •  The text is not written well, with poor spelling and grammar
    •  The email address does not match the organisation of the supposed sender
    •  The message asks for data that the assumed sender should know or would normally never ask for

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