When it comes to virus attacks, it appears that technology companies are the least bothered of all industry sectors, according to a survey by Symantec, looking at the attitudes of the UK’s small businesses towards security. While over 61 per cent of businesses across all sectors regard the company network being infected by a virus as a “primary concern’, technology companies express least concern (49 per cent)and manufacturers express most concern with 73 per cent, followed by retailers and financial companies.
However, the threat of someone hacking into company systems and stealing confidential data registered concern with nearly a third (32 per cent) of technology companies, well above the average for all of the other vertical sectors surveyed.
Symantec has launched a free booklet to help small businesses in the UK overcome concerns or fears surrounding the protection of their business and customer information. The in-depth guide, entitled “IT security for small businesses’, outlines the risks that many businesses face and advises on how these can be addressed cost-effectively and with minimum disruption. Copies of the free guide are available at: http://www.symantec.co.uk/smallbusinessbook where companies can either download an electronic copy of the booklet or order the print version for delivery later this month. Alternatively, companies can simply email firstname.lastname@example.org to request a copy.
When it comes to specific problems and their subsequent impact on the business, nearly two-thirds of technology companies (64 per cent) believe not having access to the company network would have “extreme impact’ on their business. Over half of them rate customer or supplier data being lost of stolen as having a serious impact, closely followed by not being able to prove regulatory compliance (53 per cent), lack of email access (47 per cent) and lack of Internet access (23 per cent).
While a very high 82 per cent of technology organisations (compared to an average of 78 per cent across all other sectors surveyed) believe they have enough solutions in place to secure their business and keep data safe, the research suggests that most SMEs are addressing only basic security needs and are becoming increasingly overwhelmed and confused by security in general.
“There’s no doubt that security is becoming more complicated, with simple viruses disappearing and being replaced by more complex and much more damaging so-called “blended threats’. These use multiple methods to spread – email, holes in software, spam, or the simple act of downloading something off the Internet,” explains Lee Sharrocks, small business manager at Symantec. “Unfortunately, traditional antivirus software alone is no longer enough to stop them. It’s hard enough for big businesses to keep up, let alone smaller companies that are unlikely to have the expertise or the resources in-house to handle these problems.
“In addition to managing the threats facing their businesses, small business owners need to understand the regulations and legislation surrounding the security of private data. Keeping data secure is about more than just technology.
“By producing this practical guide, we are addressing concerns from an early stage, providing a very clear outline of what needs to be addressed and how to do it. SMEs are the backbone of British industry and central to the economy, so protecting them means protecting British business!”
The launch of the new guide has been welcomed by Peter Scargill, National IT Chairman of the Federation of Small Business, who said: “We regularly hear from members who are struggling with security – they know it’s important, but there is so much for them to get to grips with and this is a particular challenge for those who have no resource dedicated to security or even to IT. Companies need simple and up to date guidance that pulls together all of the security information a small business might need into one place, helping them to really understand and respond effectively to the increasingly complex but absolutely vital demands of internet security.”
The booklet also supports a call earlier this year by the parliament-industry group EURIM and political think-tank IPPR, for the launch of a “Green Cross Code Advisory’ for SMEs. A report by the group was published in February to help raise awareness of security issues faced by small businesses and encourage the government to help them fight cybercrime. In particular, it highlighted that “those who use computers and the Internet without adequate security are not only a danger to themselves, they can also be a danger to the rest of an increasingly interconnected world’.
Philip Virgo, secretary general of EURIM, added: “We are delighted to see Symantec taking such effective actions on our recommendations earlier this year. It is essential to provide advice, guidance and solutions that are fit for use by the overworked small business, with little or no ICT expertise and even less time. It is not just that firms with under 50 staff employ 40 per cent of the private sector workforce and are often key to the health and wealth of much larger organisations, but their always-on systems are also a major point of vulnerability, potentially affecting millions of other Internet users.”
Symantec is the global leader in information security providing a broad range of software, appliances and services designed to help individuals, small and mid-sized businesses, and large enterprises secure and manage their IT infrastructure. Symantec’s Norton brand of products is the worldwide leader in consumer security and problem-solving solutions. Headquartered in Cupertino, Calif., Symantec has operations in more than 35 countries. More information is available at http://www.symantec.com.