Resilient cybersecurity solutions for European businesses

While information technologies have opened up new business opportunities, they have also left companies exposed to new threats. Smaller companies in particular are often ill-prepared to defend against cyberattacks. An EU-funded project has developed new tools to help businesses, and by extension citizens, protect themselves better and have made these available on an easy-to-use platform.

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Countries
Countries
  Algeria
  Argentina
  Australia
  Austria
  Bangladesh
  Belarus
  Belgium
  Benin
  Bolivia
  Bosnia and Herzegovina
  Brazil
  Bulgaria
  Burkina Faso
  Cambodia
  Cameroon
  Canada
  Cape Verde
  Chile
  China
  Colombia
  Costa Rica
  Croatia
  Cyprus
  Czechia
  Denmark
  Ecuador
  Egypt
  Estonia
  Ethiopia
  Faroe Islands
  Finland
  France
  French Polynesia
  Georgia


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Published: 22 February 2021  
Related theme(s) and subtheme(s)
Information societyInformation technology
SMEs
Security
Success stories in other languagesEnglish
Countries involved in the project described in the article
Belgium  |  Germany  |  Greece  |  Ireland  |  Italy  |  Slovenia  |  Spain  |  United Kingdom
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Resilient cybersecurity solutions for European businesses

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© DmitryRazinkov, #266549367, source:stock.adobe.com 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has underlined, like never before, the global economy’s increasing dependence on Information Technologies (IT). Companies of all sizes and across all sectors rely on IT solutions to conduct daily operations and interact with suppliers and consumers.

This means however that when cybersecurity incidents occur, major economic damage can be inflicted. Cyberattacks also undermine the trust of citizens and enterprises in our burgeoning digital society.

“The online theft of commercial trade secrets, business information and personal data, and the disruption of services – all these incidents result in economic losses,” explains FORTIKA project coordinator Anastasios Drosou, senior researcher at the Centre for Research & Technology Hellas (CERTH) in Greece. “The estimated cost of cybercrime to the global economy was reported to be more than EUR 775 billion a year. Cybersecurity threats can also have serious consequences for citizens’ fundamental rights, such as privacy.”

Strong cybersecurity tools

The FORTIKA project was launched with the specific aim of helping small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to tackle this threat. Smaller businesses tend to have limited resources, and often lack in-house expertise. “We know that the vulnerability of a company to cyberattacks is inversely proportional to their size,” says Drosou. “SMEs are often poorly prepared to defend themselves and their digital assets, and to protect their clients’ data and privacy.”

The project consortium set about creating tools specifically for SME needs. Cybersecurity services powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms for example were developed to carry out threat identification and mitigation. The project also evaluated the legal and ethical aspects of cybersecurity protection and incorporated these elements into their proposed technical solutions.

“The FORTIKA AI tool for example ‘watches’ a company’s network, identifies any threats and initiates countermeasures if needed,” adds Drosou. “Services like this can be easily deployed via an affordable hardware device called the FORTIKA Gateway, which is installed by the SMEs themselves.”

A key advantage of the Gateway device is that it implements a novel hardware-based technology known as ‘Edge Acceleration’. Edge Acceleration exploits Edge Computing (i.e. computing done at or near the source of the data), enabling SMEs to access high levels of computing power efficiently and affordably.

A Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) component has also been developed. This customisable and highly interactive visual interface offers end users a friendly, easily understandable and comprehensive real-time view of their assets, security status and ongoing mitigation operations.

Cybersecurity marketplace

Another key success of the project has been the development of an innovative platform. The FORTIKA marketplace, as it is called, gives SMEs access to innovations developed both within the project and by third parties. This one-stop shop enables companies to search for, select and download the cybersecurity solutions they need. “An aim of the FORTIKA marketplace is to orientate small business users towards trusted cybersecurity services,” says Drosou.

“The marketplace is not just a means of eventually promoting the cybersecurity tools that were developed by the FORTIKA consortium. It is an open platform, where a range of cybersecurity services can be marketed to SMEs worldwide. By giving SMEs access to high-level cybersecurity at low cost, and with minimal effort, they will then be able to concentrate their limited resources on their core operations and thrive.”

Strengthening the resilience of small businesses – which form the backbone of Europe’s economy – also means providing some much-needed confidence at a time of global uncertainty. The eventual commercialisation of FORTIKA’s proposed solutions – and the launch of the marketplace – will also help to create new employment opportunities in the European cybersecurity industry and research fields.

Project details

  • Project acronym: FORTIKA
  • Participants: Greece (coordinator), Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Slovenia, Spain, United Kingdom
  • Project N°: 740690
  • Total costs: EUR 4 918 812
  • EU contribution: EUR 3 997 025
  • Duration: June 2017 to May 2020

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