Many small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) spend more money on coffee and tea for their employees than they invest in their company’s IT.
This rather surprising finding was made by worldwide market research organisation GfK during a recent study of SMBs. The aim of the survey, which was commissioned by global security software manufacturer AVG, was to explore the IT security software market landscape of SMBs.
In a world where IT is the enabler of business, this can lead to many problems for these SMBs – not least of which are the security risks they are faced with.
“The majority of SMBs are still focused on the more traditional threats to IT security, such as e-mail and web viruses, and while others are finally becoming aware of other ways in which their company’s security can be compromised, including theft of information and social engineering, not enough focus is being placed on these areas,” says Bruce Goodwill, AVG’s sales director for EMEA, Latin America and Australia. Only a little over half of the participating SMBs considered information security to be a major issue.
This laid-back attitude many SMBs have towards IT security extends to mobile devices as well. In order to compete with larger corporations, SMBs are increasingly embracing mobile technology and providing their employees with tablets and smartphones so that they can access company information while on the go. However, few are aware of the potential security pitfalls that accompany this technology, with almost three quarters of the SMBs surveyed not agreeing that the use of mobile phones in business may represent a real threat to IT security.
“Statistics show that companies cannot afford to be so lax and ignorant about IT security and the longer term implications that it can have on their operations,” says Goodwill. “The cost of IT security breaches reaches far beyond losing access to files containing customer or company information, or the money they will have to spend on replacing hardware.
“During 2011, one-in-six SMBs – which translates to more than one million companies – in the US and UK experienced an IT security breach as a result of failing or insufficient IT security. As a result, 30 million man-hours of labour were lost while rectifying the results of the security breaches. Companies lost out on $14,87-million in sales/revenue opportunities due to IT security breaches, and spent $7,52-million to replace damaged hardware and corrupted computers,” he adds.
Goodwill says businesses of all sizes should treat their company’s online security with the same level of importance as they do corporate governance and brand protection. On the technological front, he offers the following advice: “Start with the basics. Have strong password management, data encryption on company computers and make sure that you have up-to-date anti-malware software installed.”
Apart from the obvious benefits you’ll reap from having adequate IT security for your business, such as protecting your company’s valuable data from being stolen or exploited by cyber criminals and potentially saving you time and money, it will also provide you with peace of mind and leave you with more time to focus your attention on your company’s bottom line, Goodwill says. “That way, your employees will always have a well stocked kitchen at work.”