LONDON and SANTA CLARA, Calif., Feb. 20 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ McAfee, Inc. (NYSE: MFE) and MessageLabs today announced global research that reveals the majority of small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) believe an IT security breach would be detrimental in achieving their business priorities. However, few are overtly proactive in their fight against infringements due to resource restrictions from other business related priorities.
The latest industry research, "SMBs in a Connected World: Business Success Means Facing New IT Security Threats," conducted by research firm IDC and commissioned by MessageLabs and McAfee®, found that 80 percent of the 450 SMB IT decision makers interviewed feared an IT security threat such as an email virus. However, as senior SMB IT professionals are more entrenched in the company's day-to-day business than enterprise CIOs, they are less able to take on a proactive approach to security threats.
The IDC research indicates that company size plays an important role in the way senior management views security. Firmly linking IT security to the business health and success of the SMB community, the research shows that only eight percent of respondents stated that improving IT security was a top business priority. Furthermore, enterprise CIOs place IT security at a much higher level of importance than SMB IT professionals. IDC raises the question: "How can SMBs face present and future threats while being occupied by daily tasks?"
Despite a clear understanding of the threat situation and its potential effect on the well-being of the company, the biggest challenge SMBs face in 2007 are reactive, maintenance-focused activities such as keeping up-to-date with security solutions (39 percent), keeping up-to-date with new threats (38 percent) and keeping costs down (33 percent). SMBs are more focused on keeping the business operating rather than strategically planning for future threats. IDC states that managed security services provide an effective and responsive answer to the dilemma in the SMB community, one of its top 10 predictions for the IT security market in 2007.
"Small- and medium-sized business behavior towards security is very tactical and meets their immediate requirements," said Eric Domage, European research manager, Security Products & Solutions, IDC. "However, the next generation of threats are not understood, not analyzed and the complexity cannot be handled internally. Remotely managed security solutions will help SMBs fill the gap between their understanding of the threat and the real dangers. SMBs must consider managed security service providers as natural partners for an accurate level of security."
The IDC research also highlights the importance of the connected world for SMBs as it reveals that SMBs are increasingly reliant on the Web for company communications, operational effectiveness and reaching their business objectives. Ninety percent of respondents actively or semi-actively use the Internet to further their business goals and achieve business priorities. Eighty-seven percent use email as a key communication tool. In addition, at least 40 percent of the SMB working day is spent accessing email and the Web.
"Security has a direct impact on every critical part of a business including reputation, productivity and business continuity," said Mark Sunner, chief security analyst, MessageLabs. "Although it appears SMBs now have a better understanding of the risks, it still appears that many are unable to prioritize or dedicate the resources to deal with security appropriately. Without a comprehensive security solution, many SMBs may be oblivious to the fact that they're being attacked, with the realization only obvious once the damage has been done."
"The Internet has provided a convenience to SMBs to do business, but has also opened the door for complex threats," said Vimal Solanki, senior director of worldwide product marketing for McAfee. "Businesses need security tools that proactively protect their computers and gives them piece of mind. Outsourcing daily security tasks can save time and money and allow SMBs to focus on their core businesses."
Another critical reason why SMBs need to raise priority levels on security is because of the legal requirements for information management. More than half of all respondents (53 percent) stated that compliance with external, legally binding regulations or rules defined by the government or another authority is mandatory. The highest proportion is in Germany, where 62 percent of respondents must adhere to these stipulations. Almost a quarter of UK respondents (24 percent) did not know if they were required to comply or not.
While it's not a top business priority, SMB professionals predict strong growth in IT security spending over the next 12 months with more than 90 percent stating that they will spend more resources on IT security in 2007, a 20 percent increase from 2006 figures. The same IT professionals state that their total IT expenditure will increase by almost 30 percent next year, which leads IDC to question if IT security is being taken seriously enough as part of the IT mix.
These findings are based on the results of 450 interviews with SMBs of 80-250 employees, across the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany and Australia. The interviews were undertaken in November 2006 and all respondents were responsible for, or actively involved in, the IT decision-making process for their organizations.
Vertical industries included professional services, business services, manufacturing, financial services, banking, media and marketing.
MessageLabs is a leading provider of integrated messaging and web security services, with over 15,000 clients ranging from small business to the Fortune 500 located in more than 80 countries. MessageLabs provides a range of managed security services to protect, control, encrypt and archive communications across Email, Web and Instant Messaging.
These services are delivered by MessageLabs globally distributed infrastructure and supported 24/7 by security experts. This provides a convenient and cost-effective solution for managing and reducing risk and providing certainty in the exchange of business information. For more information, please visit www.messagelabs.com
McAfee Inc., the leading dedicated security technology company, headquartered in Santa Clara, California, delivers proactive and proven solutions and services that secure systems and networks around the world. With its unmatched security expertise and commitment to innovation, McAfee empowers home users, businesses, the public sector, and service providers with the ability to block attacks, prevent disruptions, and continuously track and improve their security. www.mcafee.com
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SOURCE McAfee, Inc.