The Norwegian Agency for Growth's government mission to increase digital competence in small businesses includes raising knowledge about digital business risks, information and cyber security. They have therefore had Linköping Science Park in collaboration with Security Link produce the report: "Cyber security - A survey of Sweden's current situation in 2020 and future prospects for the industry".

It was recently presented by the authors, Linnéa Tullin and Emmy Englund, during a live webinar. The topic is highly topical, not least as the report highlights, among other things, the problem of involving Chinese companies in the Swedish 5G expansion.

The report's authors, Emmy Englund and Linnéa Tullin.

For companies, the cyber threats are many and varied - last year, cyber attacks are estimated to have cost Swedish companies SEK 16 billion. The most vulnerable are research-intensive companies, and the most common type of cyber attack is the spread of malicious code. Almost half of all technology companies responded that they had been exposed to cyber attacks, according to a survey conducted by Teknikföretagen.
At the same time, there is a dark side, as companies sometimes choose not to report cybercrimes for fear that their reputation and business may be damaged.

Looking at global trends, attacks against critical infrastructure are deemed to increase, for example through the spread of malicious code at subcontractors. Another trend is the concept of "crime-as-a-service", where criminals can come across cyber attack tools they themselves do not need to have expertise in.

Humans the biggest risk…

However, the greatest risk of cyber attacks is deemed to come from the individual employee. Gaps in security occur, for example, when staff share passwords, or use their own IT equipment. The fact that more people are working remotely due to the covid-19 pandemic also creates security problems linked to the networks used outside the workplace.

The report therefore calls for systems that make it easier to do the right thing.

- It is not possible to expect employees to have passwords that are 17 characters long, with two capital letters and three numbers, which must be changed every week, says Emmy Englund.

The threats from cyber attacks do not only apply to large companies, but basically affect companies in all industries. One problem, however, is the attitude of many companies to cyber security, where, unlike many other investments, they cannot always be calculated.

- If you work with cyber security without knowing why, it often does not turn out well, a good basic analysis is needed. We see a great development potential within quantitative risk analyses, then you can make visible which costs may arise, says Linnéa Tullin.

Stefan Skoglund, digital business developer at Compare, believes that even smaller companies need to think strategically to minimize the risks of attacks.

- A cyber attack against a small company can be devastating if it cannot be resolved quickly. If there is a long-term disturbance, it could threaten the entire business, he says.

New technology holds both opportunities and threats

The growing threat picture can in many ways also be linked to the rapid technological development. Technologies such as AI and IoT contribute to both business opportunities and threats. Not least within the rapidly growing number of connected IoT devices are many attack surfaces. In addition, several companies are often involved in the manufacturing, and therefore the need for guiding strategies to raise the cyber security aspect early in the development process is highlighted.

But even if the report addresses the need for both new training, research and national coordination around cyber security, an increased general level of knowledge is a recurring and strong desire. Among other things, a general basic education in cyber security is proposed, which gives people knowledge both as private individuals and in their professional roles.

  • At Linköping Science Park project page for cyber security there are short video guides on how smaller companies can think and work with cyber security.
  • Don't miss Compare's closing either TechTalk on cyber security
    December 8, when an expert panel discusses the topic.

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