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Cyber security in SMEs

Researchers want to safeguard small businesses against cyber threats

The changing threat landscape increases the need for companies to upgrade their cyber security, and a new research project at SDU will help small and medium-sized enterprises with this task.

By Marlene Jørgensen, , 9/11/2023

Complex geopolitical crises and digital turmoil. These are conditions that make organisations vulnerable to cyber threats, and for small businesses in particular navigating an uncertain world can be difficult.

The Danish Industry Foundation is therefore supporting a total of five projects to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) strengthen cyber security, and one of the projects will be located at SDU.

Conflicts can affect exports and security

– SMEs often rely on exports to grow their business, and geopolitical crises can cause disruptions to their supply chains and limit their access to markets, which can have major consequences for them.

– At the same time, research shows that SMEs often lack knowledge about cyber security and are particularly vulnerable to attacks such as theft of intellectual property rights, sabotage and ransomware.

This is according to Professor Jan Stentoft from the Department of Entrepreneurship and Relationship Management.

What scenarios should companies prepare for?

Jan Stentoft is leading the new project, which has received DKK 8.5 million from the Danish Industry Foundation. All activities are performed with colleagues in the project from SDU’s Center for War Studies and the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, as well as the Royal Danish Defence College.

The goal is to develop a digital tool that identifies different geopolitical and cyber scenarios of the future. These scenarios will pinpoint potential vulnerabilities in SME supply chains and what capabilities organisations ought to have to prevent cybercrime and attacks.

Companies’ cyber security will be tested

50 small and medium-sized companies will be part of the project, which focuses on Danish manufacturing companies in the defence, IT, and communications industries.


More about the project

The project entitled ‘Cyber Security and Business Continuity – in small and medium-sized Danish manufacturing companies’ is a collaboration between researchers at the Department of Entrepreneurship and Relationship Management, the Center for War Studies and the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, all at SDU, and the Royal Danish Defence College.

The project is supported by the Danish Industry Foundation with DKK 8.5 million, and it will run for 2.5 years.

The project team includes:
  • Jan Stentoft, Professor, Project Manager, Department of Entrepreneurship and Relationship Management
  • Ole Stegmann Mikkelsen, Associate Professor, Department of Entrepreneurship and Relationship Management
  • Olivier Schmitt, Professor (wsr), Center for War Studies
  • Vincent Keating, Associate Professor, Center for War Studies
  • Amelie Theussen, Associate Professor, Royal Danish Defence College
  • Marco Peressotti, Associate Professor, Department of Mathematics and Computer Science
  • Peter Mayer, Assistant Professor, Department of Mathematics and Computer Science
  • Fabrizio Montesi, Professor, Department of Mathematics and Computer Science
  • Narongrit Unwerawattana, Scientific Software Developer, Department of Mathematics and Computer Science
  • Two postdocs will be appointed to the project
  • Peter Møllgaard, Dean, Faculty of Business and Social Sciences, Chairperson of the project’s steering committee.

The companies will be trained in cyber security, and researchers will simulate different incident scenarios that can reveal new vulnerabilities and areas of focus for the participants.

– We hope that the project will help change the mindset of companies. Cyber security should not be seen as a cost, but as an investment in the company and its competitive advantage. And it’s about ensuring cross-organisational collaboration and keeping track of the security of suppliers, customers, and interfaces as well, so that SMEs can increase their cyber security, says Jan Stentoft.

In addition to the 50 companies participating in the project, there is also knowledge and inspiration to be gained for other companies about cyber challenges and how they can best tackle them. The digital tool and the software code behind it will also be available to all (see www.cyber-smv.dk – currently under construction).


Meet the researcher

Jan Stentoft is a Professor at the Department of Entrepreneurship and Relationship Management at SDU.

Contact

Editing was completed: 11.09.2023