Small Businesses Lack Security Resources for Mobile Technology

Just under a third listed securing mobile and portable computing devices as one of their top-three IT security priorities for the next 12 months.

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Very small businesses (VSBs) with fewer than 25 employees have the same rate of mobile device adoption as large enterprises, but most lack the security awareness, technical expertise and budget needed to properly protect company-issued or employee-owned mobile devices, according to a Kaspersky Lab survey of 3,900 IT professionals worldwide.

When asked about IT challenges encountered over the previous 12 months, 34 percent of businesses said they had managed the integration of mobile devices into their business.

This rate is nearly identical to the rate of mobile integration reported by enterprises, which was 35 percent, which suggests the smallest companies in the world are adopting mobile technology at essentially the same rate as huge companies with more than 5,000 employees.

In fact, the survey found small businesses reported a higher rate of mobile adoption than small businesses with 26-99 employees, as well as large businesses with 1,500-5,000 employees.

"Most VSBs have limited IT staff, or rely on a third party consultant to make IT recommendations. They should be aware that while rolling out BYOD to their employees is turning into the norm at most companies, they need to protect these devices in the same way they protect other IT investments," Evan Munno, manager of North America public sector sales for Kaspersky Lab, told eWEEK. "Utilizing a mobile device management solution will not only ensure the company’s data is protected whether the device gets lost, or if the employee leaves the company."

Very small businesses reported 6 percent more mobile integration than small businesses with 26-99 employees, and 2 percent more than large businesses, defined by Kaspersky as those with 1,500-5,000 employees.

Just under one-third (31 percent) of small businesses listed securing mobile and portable computing devices as one of their top-three IT security priorities for the next 12 months.

However, when asked about bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies, where employees use their own mobile devices for business purposes, the survey uncovered a perception-gap based on company size.

When surveying attitudes towards technology trends, 28 percent of businesses surveyed agreed that BYOD introduces an increased IT security risk to their business.

The study also indicated large businesses and enterprises had a response rate that was nearly twice the small business response, with 52 percent and 48 percent agreeing about the risks presented by BYOD.

"An immediate benefit VSBs will see after implementing a BYOD program is the creation of a mobile workforce. BYOD allows VSBs to bypass the hardware costs from providing mobile devices to employees, yet allows their employees to have corporate access regardless of where they’re located," Munno said. "This leads to increased productivity of employees since they have 24/7 access without having to rely on their laptop, or be in their office."

Munno said the study indicates businesses see the value in BYOD, and adoption will only grow in the future.

"Companies, regardless of size, need to understand that mobile devices need to be protected in a comparable manner to their other IT infrastructure, regardless if it’s a corporate device or a personal device," he said. "Implementing a strong MDM solution will ensure the business’ data is protected, but keeps the business’ total cost of ownership lean."