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Studierende in den Seminarräumen des O-Gebäudes, Foto: Universität Paderborn, Fotografin: Judith Kraft Show image information

Studierende in den Seminarräumen des O-Gebäudes, Foto: Universität Paderborn, Fotografin: Judith Kraft


IT security without obstacles: Research project “SMEs. Simply safe.” begins.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Germany, particularly need to improve their IT security. The market for products is large, many sources of information on technical matters and training courses can be expensive. Effective and easy-to-use training courses are therefore in demand. This is exactly where the project “SMEs. Simply safe.” which at the end of February had its opening event, is beneficial. The project, which ends in June 2022, is funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy for one million euros.

The interdisciplinary project team is made up of and includes scientists from the SICP - Software Innovation Campus of the University of Paderborn, which is involved in the didactics of computer science, The Centre for Information and Media Technologies (IMT), The Media Education and Empirical media research, the technology network InnoZent OWL e. V. and coactum GmbH. In addition, associated partners include, The Chambers of Commerce and Industry Arnsberg, East Westphalia and Bielefeld. The opening event served to give the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy as well as the project sponsor, The German Aerospace Centre, a comprehensive overview of the current status and the upcoming work and goals of the project.

Better IT security with little effort

“In the age of Industry 4.0, information technology is increasingly shaping numerous operational processes. The importance of IT security is therefore becoming increasingly vital. Small and medium-sized companies in particular, face challenges here,” says Dr. Simon Oberthür, project lead and manager of the digital security competence area at SICP. Often an IT specialist alongside in-house knowledge is missing. Therefore, cost-effective and easy-to-use IT security solutions are in demand, as the WIK study on the "Current situation of IT security in SMEs" shows. "The aim of the research project is to develop and integrate processes and measures that enable small and medium-sized companies to significantly improve their IT security with little effort," explains Michael Kemkes, Managing Director at InnoZent OWL.

A continuing education platform promotes sustainability

A further training platform for companies is to be implemented within the project. On the one hand, this includes a simplified risk assessment process that is uncomplicated and simply identifies the needs and the risk areas within the company. On the other hand, the platform includes individual and free multimedia educational offers. This technical implementation is carried out by the project partner coactum GmbH. The overall goal of the platform is to sustainably improve IT security in SMEs. Additional training offers should serve to make employees aware of IT security topics in an exciting, job-relevant and sustainable manner. "The project is researching the questions: Can a sufficient knowledge of the construction and structure of computer systems, enable them to be operated competently and confidently? How do you impart this knowledge so that a confident and self-determined use of computer systems is achieved and conversely a sustainable operating competence of computer systems, can then be established in the long term, ”explains Prof. Dr. Carsten Schulte, Professor of Didactics of Computer Science at the University of Paderborn. Schulte also adds, "Using IT security topics as an example, we are taking advantage of the opportunities offered by " SMEs. Simply safe. “, in order to get to the bottom of these questions,”.

In addition, the research project enables a scientific examination of the use of eLearning in vocational training in the field of IT security. "From a media research perspective, this examines how the training platform can be designed in such a way, that it expands media skills with the aim of a sustainable security culture within the company," said Prof. Dr. Dorothee Meister, professor of media education and empirical media research at the University of Paderborn. "It is important to increase the motivation to learn with the help of attractive further training offers and to provide opportunities, which take advantage of media education, throughout an entire professional working life", explained Meister. The interest in learning about the didactic concept and its multimedia implementation is therefore in the foreground of the project. In doing so it increasingly links to other IT security projects from within Business, including SMEs. 

The projects results will be made available, free of charge to SMEs via


Simon Oberthür

Dr. Simon Oberthür

Software Innovation Campus Paderborn (SICP)

R&D Manager - Digital Security

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