Small Businesses Unprepared for Data Loss, Lack Backup Policies

Interestingly, the AVG survey indicated small business owners do not think the mobile devices in their workforce have a lot of sensitive data on them.

Most small businesses are still failing to appreciate the true value of their data after a new study released today by Internet and mobile security company AVG Technologies.

The survey of small and midsize businesses in the United States and the United Kingdom found a significant proportion of SMBs routinely spend more time tidying their desk (37 percent) or ordering new business cards (22 percent U.K., 21 percent U.S.) than backing up data.

It was not even the most routine computer-related task—43 percent of U.K. businesses and 53 percent of U.S. small businesses said they spend more time changing passwords than backing up.

Interestingly, the survey showed small-business owners do not think the mobile devices in their workforce have a lot of sensitive data on them, despite the worrying fact that approximately half of small businesses (47 percent) say they have experienced losing a mobile device.

When a device is lost or stolen the priority for 39 percent of U.K. businesses and 41 percent of U.S. businesses is to ensure data cannot be viewed by unauthorized third parties.

The survey revealed data loss impacts productivity first (37 percent U.K., 50 percent U.S.), then revenue (32 percent U.K., 37 percent U.S.) then customer confidence (31 percent U.K., 39 percent U.S.).

There was much more concern about trusting the security of their data to the cloud. When asked about cloud-based backup, 64 percent of SMB owners said security was their top concern.

While many (75 percent) do rely on automated backup systems, around a quarter (24 percent) do not insist that employees back up at least once a week, despite the fact that 30 percent believe more than half of their data is sensitive.

"Our research shows that while the great majority of small businesses in North America are relatively savvy about the importance of backup, there is still plenty of market education to do, especially when it comes to mobile and cloud platforms," Mike Foreman, AVG’s SMB general manager, said in a statement.

The majority of small businesses, 54 percent in the U.S., still do not insist employees back up every day. In a high number of cases (68 percent U.K., 75 percent U.S.) backup is automated by IT systems. Importantly, however, around a quarter of businesses on both side of the pond still leave longer than a week between backups or at least do not insist that employees backup more regularly.

"In today’s mobile and data-driven world it’s particularly shocking to hear how business owners still spend more time on physical-world activities like tidying their desks and ordering new business cards than digital ones, which suggests that, despite evidence cyber criminals see value in small business data, business owners themselves are still failing to appreciate the true value of the data held within their systems," Foreman continued.