SMB Computer Security and Internet Security Awareness Grows

An increasing awareness of IT security issues displayed by SMBs during 2011 could present an opportunity for MSPs in 2012. The “SMB Market Landscape Report 2011,” a recent survey of 1,000 US- and UK-based SMBs released by internet security software provider AVG, indicates that traditional IT vulnerabilities are still causing SMBs the most concern, but there is a slow awakening to threats related to emerging technologies, especially among larger SMBs.

Traditional virus sources still top SMB IT decision-makers’ security worries, with more than 80% of survey respondents stating that email- or web-borne viruses remain their key worry. However, only about a third of SMBs claim that they are worried about mobile malware and viruses, which AVG says would correspond with the increased use of smartphones and progression of technology in this area.

Despite the numerous high-profile instances of hacking into corporate databases in recent years, only about six in 10 (58%) SMBs said they were worried about loss of company or customer information, social engineering or employee identity theft. SMBs may assume their larger competitors are more likely to be targeted by data thieves.

Cloud Concerns Grow

Another interesting finding is the relatively high proportion of SMBs (one in six) who indicated they were considering moving their data to the cloud in 2010 that now express concerns about the safety of their data which is stored on the cloud. When looking at what impact SMBs feel an IT security breach would have on their organization, AVG finds concerns center around the more immediate, logistical issues; including lost access to files and having to replace hardware. This concern appears to translate to fears of cloud data becoming “lost,” with no physical backup.

Survey results show one in six SMBs experienced an IT security breach in 2011, down slightly from 2010 but still representing more than 1 million companies in the USA and UK. More than half of those companies experiencing a breach claim to have suffered slowing down of computers, making it the most likely symptom. However, around a third of organizations claim to have lost access to either files or software programs following a security failure.

For US SMBs, losses relating to security breaches in 2011 include 22.1 million man-hours of labor responding to them, $11.3 million of lost sales/revenue opportunities, and $5.6 million of spending on replacing damaged hardware.

Computer Security Requirements

When asked about their requirements for security software, SMBs have simple, straightforward needs. The three most popular are delivering the right level of protection, avoiding impact on business performance, and working in the background. To be succinct, they want security software that works.

All these factors combine to create an outstanding potential SMB managed security services market in 2012. MSPs can get their foot in the door by providing effective managed traditional virus protection, which can then lead to protecting against mobile viruses, with more advanced services such as secure cloud storage and backup as potential offerings later in the relationship.

The potentially devastating impact security breaches can have on the time and money of resource-strapped SMBs is a powerful selling tool, and SMBs have a very reasonable set of expectations for their IT security system performance. So if you are an MSP in the SMB marketplace and do not currently offer managed security services, make that your top New Year’s resolution, and get an early start on fulfilling it.
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