08. January 2020

The cyber sentry

Johannes Klick consults companies on IT security issues

Johannes Klick © WISTA Management GmbH
Johannes Klick and his family © WISTA Management GmbH

A massive airstrike, a lightning attack in a computer game, or radiation that wreaks havoc in a computer’s processor? ‘Wikipedia’ provides several possible explanations as to what an ‘Alpha Strike’ may be. Johannes Klick and his team certainly liked the word while searching for a name for the company, which they founded in October 2017 and now based in Adlershof.

They were looking for a ‘slightly more aggressive company name’, one that displayed vigour. Fully named ‘Alpha Strike Labs GmbH’, the company’s business model focuses on cyber security. It helps other companies to identify and fend off ‘cyber threats’: ‘Our customers,’ says Klick, ‘are often unaware of their attack surface’ – weak spots or unsafe configurations in web servers, for instance, which expose them to invaders.

Working as a computer scientist at Free University Berlin, Klick and his colleagues developed a search engine capable of scanning the entire web, 2.8 billion IP addresses in only a few hours. Enriched with additional info, this data collection provides the company’s customers with a complete map of possible online weak spots. Which information do intruders require to access a company’s collective knowledge? How do they learn more about staff in relevant positions? How do they perform a successful breach? These are but some of the questions Klick deals with. The ‘hacker’s perspective’, as he calls it, is the foundation of his work.

For somebody who spends his days in the vast expanses of the digital realm, the 32-year-old displays a remarkable locational loyalty in the analogue world. He grew up in Altglienicke and went to high school in Schöneweide. He now lives and works in close-by Adlershof, where his father, a PhD physicist, also has a technology company. It seems like ‘it runs in the family,’ he says.

During the army, Klick spent some of the time with the executive transport wing of the German Air Force in Tegel, where he was responsible for checking in passengers of government aircraft. He was there when George W. Bush disembarked from Airforce One, when a Saudi delegation hauled tons of sausages into an aeroplane, and when, after a 10-minute delay, then-foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier got snarled at by Angela Merkel for daring to make her wait.

The happily married Johannes Klick dedicates his private life to his ‘adorable daughter’, a garden in Königs Wusterhausen, and, finally, the ‘The Black Guard’, his paintball club. The club hosts tournaments on a former military training area near Magdeburg and has also taken him to England, France, and the Czech Republic. Camping out and roaming the terrain with a dozen mates is ‘really great fun and helps me to clear my head.’

By Winfried Dolderer for Adlershof Journal