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Vulnerabilities / Threats

Symantec SMB Study Shows Security Concerns Rising

SMBs rank information loss and online attacks as their leading worries with more than 40% losing data in the past year and more than 70% victimized by cyberattacks.

Small and midsize businesses are waking up to the threat of online attacks and information loss, which they now rank as their top business risks. Perhaps it's because 73% of SMBs report that they've been the victims of cyber-attacks in the past year, and 42% have lost confidential or proprietary information. As a result, all affected businesses suffered direct losses, either in revenue or clean-up costs.

Those findings come from the new 2010 Global SMB Information Protection Survey released today by Symantec. For the report, Applied Research surveyed 2,152 executives and decision-makers at small and midsize businesses -- defined as having 10 to 499 employees -- in 28 countries, in May 2010.

Based on the results, "we see SMBs getting very serious about information protection -- they're seeing information loss being a real threat to their company and cyber-attacks continue to be a menace," said Bernard Laroche, senior director of product marketing at Symantec.

The level of SMBs' security awareness is new. "In the past, cyber-attacks were perceived by SMBs to be something just for enterprises," he said.

The survey also found that 74% of SMBs are concerned about losing proprietary or confidential data. But their understanding of actual risks may be incomplete, given that 47% said their company never backed up data, with 39% of them saying that it "never occurred to us to do so."

But there's been progress. According to a study conducted by Symantec in late 2009, one-third of SMBs didn't use antivirus and half didn't systematically back up critical business data.

Today, however, 92% of SMBs use antimalware software, and roughly two-thirds of IT time at SMBs is devoted to protecting information, with a company spending, on average, $51,000 per year to handle information security, backup and recovery, archiving and disaster preparedness.

For the 42% of SMBs that lost information in the past, when characterizing the causes and frequency, respondents cited outsiders (24%) or insiders (19%) stealing information, insiders accidentally losing information (21%), partners illegally stealing (12%) or accidentally losing (13%) the data, or a broken business process that accidentally exposed sensitive information (12%).

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