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Milliondonation strengthens retail and cyber security in Aarhus: Research will secure the retail industry against cyber attacks


This post is also available in: Danish

Identity theft, data breaches and ransomware attacks, where criminals demand ransoms to release data, have become commonplace for many Danish retail chains. That’s why Købmand Ferdinand Sallings Mindefond is donating DKK 4.8 million to a 3-year collaboration with Security Tech Space and Aarhus University to make the retail industry more robust in the face of increasing threat levels.

Studies indicate that over 70 percent of the retail industry has been exposed to attacks and that there is a great need for better cybersecurity in the industry, explains Anders Hagh, Chairman of the Board of the Ferdinand Salling Memorial Foundation and CEO of Salling Group. The group itself was affected by a cyberattack in 2021 that left several employees unable to clock in and out as usual.

“There have been several recent cases that clearly show us that the industry is being hit hard by cyber attacks. In order for us to maintain the position of strength that we have in Denmark, with many internationally leading companies in retail, it is important that we future-proof ourselves in an uncertain world and not rest on our laurels. By using the latest security technology in the field, we can ensure that we can deliver goods on time and minimize fraud when shopping even more in the future,” he explains.

Aarhus University is a world leader in cybersecurity. Therefore, according to Anders Hagh, the collaboration is obvious, as it can strengthen the positions in both retail and cybersecurity.

“We hope that the collaboration with Security Tech Space and Aarhus University can lead to success stories that can help spread the use of IT security technology in retail. It can help give Aarhus a new position of strength in the field,” he explains.

Future-proofing the retail industry

The donation is given to create two new research talent positions at the Department of Computer Science, Aarhus University. The projects focus on developing safe new technology for the future of retail.

Two of the technologies that will be used to create greater security are Multi-Party Computation (MPC) and extra secure user authentication.

“Multi-Party Computation makes it possible to perform calculations on data from a number of parties without each party having access to each other’s data. For example, you can run an auction without the bidders having access to the individual bidding patterns. They only get the result of the calculation – the highest bid. And with extra secure user authentication, we can ensure that you always know who you are communicating and trading with globally, which reduces opportunities for cheating and identity theft,” explains Professor and Head of Department Kaj Grønbæk from the Department of Computer Science, Aarhus University.

Peer H. Kristensen, Director of Security Tech Space, is pleased that Aarhus’ strong position in retail can be combined with the city’s world-class research in cyber security.

“Salling Fondene is pleased that there is synergy in this collaboration and that they also want to help strengthen the investment in this area that Aarhus Municipality has launched. The strong cybersecurity expertise can help strengthen the already strong retail industry,” he says.

Facts: The cybersecure retail industry of the future

  • Aarhus is a retail powerhouse with companies such as Salling Group, Jysk, Søstrene Grene, Hummel and Bestseller. But research suggests that there is an urgent need for increased cybersecurity in the retail industry.
  • Aarhus also has a strong position within IT and communication, which in recent years has grown faster and created more value than any other city in Denmark. Aarhus is home to several leading companies working with technologies and solutions to protect against cyber threats. This is supported by an analysis conducted by Deloitte in 2023, which shows that Aarhus has a strong research and market position within cybersecurity.
  • Aarhus University is a key player in this position of strength with its research and education in computer science, attracting talent from around the world. The university is No. 2 in the world in cryptography and a number of other highly specialized disciplines in IT security. It is based on these two strengths that Security Tech Space, together with Aarhus University, wants to establish two projects that strengthen cyber security in trade.

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