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Cyber-attacks: the EU alongside European SMEs and MEs

With the advent of the digital age, cyber security is placed at the top of companies’ major risks list according to the ECIIA 2018 study (European Confederation of Institutes of Internal Auditing).

As per Europol, losses linked to cyber security reached €265 billion. Confronted to the economic and security challenges, the EU is committed to working alongside Small and Medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and Micro Enterprises (MEs). 

Data security: exposure of European SMEs and MEs?
Even though large groups, SMEs and MEs face the same threats, the cybersecurity landscape is marked by deep inequities. SMEs are further confronted to failures of their IT systems due to budgetary reasons but also because of their poor risk assessment. Hence, 70% of European enterprises do not realize the extent of their exposure to cyber-attacks. With the professionalization of hackers and ever more sophisticated threats, SMEs and MEs are encouraged to equip themselves with innovative security systems in order to maintain partners’ and customers’ trust and also to protect themselves from data thefts and computer frauds.

The European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which entered into force in May 2018, is one of the EU’s answers to this challenge, for instance, by increasing corporate responsibility. Through its financing programmes, the EU provides other responses which are specifically targeted at SMEs and MEs.

As part of the Horizon 2020 programme, a call for proposals will be opened on the 14th March 2019. Entitled “Digital Security and Privacy for Citizens and SMEs and MEs“, one of its components encourages the development of targeted and cost-effective solutions for better assessment, management and forecast of security and data protection risks in an easy and affordable way for SMEs and MEs. Incidents reporting must lean on a collaborative relationship between SMEs and MEs associations and the CERTs (Computer Emergence Response Team).

There are currently 34 organisations looking for collaborative partners on this issue. The maximum amount of the grant will be between €2 and €5 million. The deadline for submitting applications is on the 22nd of August.

SMEs represent 99, 8% of European enterprises and 67% of total employment in the EU. With the massive digitisation of data, one of the main risks for European economy is cyber-attacks. Confronted to these challenges, the EU is trying to support these SMEs and MEs through numerous initiatives. However, an intensive awareness campaign is required for companies because data security issues will only be mastered when companies adopt a culture of good IT security practices. Nonetheless, unlike large companies, SMEs and MEs, feel less concerned by these threats.

Hickmah Tagaully


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