Small Businesses Lack Adequate Internet Security: Symantec

By Nathan Eddy  |  Print this article Print

Half of the SMBs surveyed think that because they are a small company, they aren't in danger from cyber-attacks.

Although awareness is high, small to midsize businesses don't consider themselves targets of cyber-attacks, according to findings of Symantec's 2011 SMB Threat Awareness Poll. As a result, they are not implementing the proper safeguards to protect their information.

The SMB Threat Awareness Poll examined the awareness levels of SMBs regarding the dangers of security threats, and how well they are prepared to defend against them.

The survey shows that more than half of SMBs are familiar with many different security threats to the business, including targeted attacks, keystroke logging and the risks that come with using smartphones for company business. More than half (54 percent) stated that malware would cause a loss of productivity, and 36 percent recognized that hackers could gain access to proprietary information. In addition, respondents said a targeted attack would impact the business. Forty-six percent stated that a targeted attack would cause a revenue loss, and 20 percent said it would drive customers away.

Although SMBs know the dangers of cyber-attacks, they don't feel they are at risk. In fact, half of SMBs think that because they are a small company, they aren't in danger—it's primarily large enterprises that have to worry about attacks, they believe.

This is in direct contrast to the evidence. According to data from Symantec.cloud, since the beginning of 2010, 40 percent of all targeted attacks have been directed at companies with fewer than 500 employees, compared with only 28 percent directed at large enterprises.      

Because SMBs don't see themselves as targets, many of them are failing to take basic precautions to protect their information. While two-thirds restrict who has log-in information, 63 percent don't secure machines used for online banking, and 9 percent don't take any additional precautions for online banking. More than half (61 percent) don't use antivirus on all desktops, and 47 percent don't use security on mail servers/services.

"Our research shows that SMBs are quite vulnerable to cyber-attacks, and it's more important than ever for them to take steps to keep their information safe," said Steve Cullen, senior vice president of worldwide marketing for SMB and .Cloud for Symantec. "Even with tight budgets and limited resources, simple changes such as education and best practices can significantly strengthen an SMB's security approach to cyber-attacks."