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Risk

8/28/2007
11:51 AM
Keith Ferrell
Keith Ferrell
Commentary
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Most Small Businesses Are Security Over-Confident

That's what a new study says, anyway -- 80 percent of small to midsize businesses don't block (or, by implication, monitor) employee use of computers for file-sharing or use of USB devices, three-quarters allow unfettered Instant Messenging, nearly half don't even have spyware controls installed, and a staggering percentage don't regularly update what security software they do have. Yet most feel confident that their companies are protected.

That's what a new study says, anyway -- 80 percent of small to midsize businesses don't block (or, by implication, monitor) employee use of computers for file-sharing or use of USB devices, three-quarters allow unfettered Instant Messenging, nearly half don't even have spyware controls installed, and a staggering percentage don't regularly update what security software they do have. Yet most feel confident that their companies are protected.The Websense SMB State of Security (SOS: clever, no?) study drew on the responses of 450 small to midsize business IT managers to find, among other things, that:

20 percent of you use only firewall and anti-virus software to protect your networks: no spyware or spam monitors and filters, no program prohibitors to limit illicit uses of company computers or attachment of external devices to the network.

According to Websense the average small firm computer doesn't get security updates for three weeks after a vulnerability announcement --this in a world of easily automated updates.

For that matter, in a world of daily evolving threats, only 4 percent of the companies surveyed perform daily security updates.

11 percent said their security software has never been updated.

The good news, again according to Websense, is that 94 percent of your IT managers have (Websense's press release says "claim to have" which strikes me as a either a value judgment or a slur, and maybe both) an Internet usage policy in place. But 12 percent admitted -- and good for them -- that they have no way to enforce the policy.

The lamest finding in the release and a good candidate for lamest in recent memory is:

"67 percent say that all companies should have equal levels of protection from Internet security threats, irrespective of their size."

Ya think?

Reminds me of some of my father's wisdom, passed along when we were kids: "Should in one hand, [insert your preferred epithet here] in the other, and one of them will fill up."

Sure we should all have the same level of protection, and we sure should come up with ways to put teeth in our security policies, and there should be easier and more affordable ways to achieve both.

That there isn't is both a fact of life and, at least to a certain extent, a fact of human nature.

And the nature of all businesses, not just ours.

What Websense neglects to point out in its admittedly alarming -- but also alarmist -- press release is that bigbiz, governments, institutions, and even security software companies have many of these same problems, as any glance at any day's technology headlines will bear out.

That said, we should also bear down on the problems identified, whether they're exclusively small to midsize business problems or not, shouldn't we?

Sure we... should.

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