Security Demands Stress Small Business IT Infrastructure: Sophos

Small businesses struggle to deploy up-to-date network security measures as their mobile workforce grows.

An increasingly complex Web of security measures€”and threats€”is straining the IT infrastructure of small and midsize businesses, according to a survey of 571 IT managers and directors across North America, Europe and Australia. The survey, conducted for Web and data security firm Sophos by Vanson Bourne, found more than one-third (36 percent) of businesses struggle with applying consistent security policies across all offices, and 34 percent of respondents had their network firewall for five years or more.

The results highlighted the difficulties small businesses have in keeping their security infrastructure current and aligned with company policies. The changing nature of employee productivity with the advent of mobile devices and remote locations is also impacting SMB security, with 93 percent of SMBs surveyed integrating remote working policies into their security provision. More than half of respondents (52 percent) expecting to improve security precautions to mitigate additional risks posed by remote working.

€œTrends such as remote working, mobile and cloud are having a huge impact on the way small and medium sized businesses think about protecting their networks,€ Gerhard Eschelbeck, CTO at Sophos, said in a prepared statement. €œFor SMBs, it is critical that any network security solution has both the ease and simplicity of a one-size-fits-all approach, yet still addresses the specific vulnerabilities of each device or mode of working, as well as every access point on the network.€

Along with remote or mobile offices comes the need to protect wireless networks, another area where small businesses were found lacking. Only about one-fifth (21 percent) of respondents said they were very confident in their wireless security, and one in five respondents said they had suffered a network outage caused by a malware infection in the last 12 months.

€œCompanies are re-evaluating how they tackle IT security. A fragmented approach is consistently leaving networks vulnerable to attack, as new technologies such as cloud, and new devices such as mobile, require more advanced security architectures,€ Eschelbeck said. €œFor many, it is time to take a more holistic approach to IT security, one that ensures all elements of protection function seamlessly together.€

With IT budgets under pressure amid general economic uncertainty, low total cost of ownership (TCO) was the highest priority for small businesses, cited by 30 percent of respondents. Ease of use and professional support for the solution followed with 24 percent and 22 percent, respectively. Whatever the network security solution is, 37 percent of respondents said they are struggling with consistent security policy application across offices. However, SMBs are looking toward virtualization, cloud computing and improvements to their wireless networks to more aggressively tackle security challenges.

€œIt is encouraging to see companies planning to invest in IT infrastructure. Any technology additions will have a significant impact on the security infrastructure, and with 70 percent planning to increase their IT security budget in the coming year, it is vital that this investment ensures the security fabric of the entire business is as robust as possible and able to support new and evolving technologies,€ Eschelbeck€™s statement concluded.