GEIGER is a project developed to support micro and small enterprises (MSEs) in Europe protect themselves against cyber incidents. Often, MSEs have very little experience in cybersecurity to protect their business, and many of the cybersecurity solutions currently on the market target companies with in-house expertise. This EU-funded Horizon 2020 project managed by the University of Education Freiburg and University of Applied Science Northwestern Switzerland aims to tackle this gap, and support MSEs by offering them a toolbox and education programme targeted to their specific needs and resources.
What the project offers
The toolbox developed by the project, the “Geiger counter”, is a software which evaluates the MSE’s cybersecurity risk and provides recommendations for improving their cybersecurity. Available for Android, iPhone and Windows, the software’s score is based on an assessment of the MSE’s infrastructure and their employees’ level of cybersecurity knowledge.
The GEIGER education programme is a standardised learning programme on cybersecurity and data protection. Delivered by educational provider, the curriculum is composed of 4 country-specific syllabi. The programme consists of 12 learning tools, including 4 learning games. After completing the programme, participants can become certified ‘Security Defenders’ and are then qualified to ensure the cybersecurity of their own MSEs.
Both the toolbox and programme were developed using a socio-technological approach. For example, the toolbox includes self-taught learning options and evaluates MSE employees’ knowledge of cybersecurity. The educational programme teaches practical skills and trains participants in how to install and use the GEIGER toolbox within their enterprise.
Who does the project target?
The beneficiaries of GEIGER are:
- Persons working in Micro- and Small Business (from IT-lay people to persons who want to take over responsibility for Cybersecurity their MSE)
- Education Providers (e.g. Vocational schools; business associations; universities.. )
- IT-Experts; Learning Tool Providers
Why is this a good practice?
According to GEIGER, while 99% of all European businesses are MSEs, they are often overlooked within the cybersecurity field. One of the EU’s priorities is cybersecurity, but they often face challenges in making it accessible to all. With increasing digitalisation, the probability of a cyber-attacks against businesses also increase – making GEIGER even more relevant to MSEs across Europe.
GEIGER’s socio-technological approach stands out, as it aims to make the toolbox and programme as coherent as possible for its target audience. Concretely, this means that the project approaches cybersecurity risks from both a technological standpoint and the ‘human factor’. In order to ensure that the project addressed the needs of MSEs who many not have much in-depth knowledge or background in cybersecurity, the project was developed by a consortium composed of international cybersecurity and education experts, as well as small businesses. As an easy-to-use and affordable cybersecurity solution, the project has been committed to ensuring it is digitally accessible and inclusive to all. Finally, in line with the principles of environmental protection, project partners have limited travel as much as possible by making courses and trainings online whenever possible.
Aiming for long-term impact
Within the two years of this project, 398 people have become certified ‘Cybersecurity Defenders’, and 125 Education Providers have committed to delivering GEIGER education programmes. Additionally, 18 scientific papers were published, including 8 high-impact journals. Overall, over 2,500 MSEs have benefitted from the Security Defender Education.
The project was primarily distributed in the pilot case countries: Romania, Switzerland, Netherlands and Germany. In the future, further dissemination is planned in other European countries. In January, a GEIGER Spin-off was created with the previous consortium partners to further disseminate the toolbox across Europe to MSEs and Education Providers in order to ensure long-term impact.