I Just Want to Help: SMEs Engaging with Cybersecurity Technology

21st December, 2023

Authors John Brian Pickering, Stephen Phillips and Gencer Erdogan


The cybersecurity landscape is particularly challenging for SMEs. On the one hand, they must comply with regulation or face legal sanction. But on the other, they may not have the resource or expertise to ensure regulatory compliance, especially since this is not their core business. At the same time, it is also well-attested in the literature that individuals (human actors in the ecosystem) are often targeted for cyber attacks. So, SMEs must also consider their employees but also their clients as potential risks regarding cybersecurity. Finally, it is also known that SMEs working together as part of a single supply chain are reluctant to share cybersecurity status and information. Given all of these challenges, assuming SMEs recognise their responsibility for security, they may be overwhelmed in trying to meet all the associated requirements. There are tools to help support them, of course, assuming they are motivated to engage with such tooling. This paper looks at the following aspects of this overall situation. In a set of four studies, we assess private citizen understanding of cybersecurity and who they believe to be responsible. On that basis, we then consider their attitude to sharing data with service providers. Moving to SMEs, we provide a general overview of their response to the cybersecurity landscape. Finally, we ask four SMEs across different sectors how they respond to cybersecurity tooling. As well as providing an increased understanding of private citizen and SME attitudes to cybersecurity, we conclude that SMEs need not be overwhelmed by their responsibilities. On the contrary, they can take the opportunity to innovate based on their experience with cybersecurity tools.


Authors: John Brian Pickering, Stephen Phillips and Gencer Erdogan

The paper can be found at the following link:  https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-031-35822-7_23

, , scp@it-innovation.soton.ac.uk Phillips Stephen