Appetite for tablets is putting SMBs at greater risk of infection

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SMBs are embracing the latest tablet and social networking technologies for greater employee mobility and more personalised customer engagement yet very few are aware of the accompanying security risks.  These are just some of the trends highlighted in AVG's new SMB Market Landscape Report, the full online version of which was announced recently.

According to the study 10% of SMBs are using tablets while more than a third (34%) are using social networking for business.  The figures show only a quarter (27%) of SMBs view the use of mobile phones in business as a threat to IT security.  Taking the business overall, there is evidence that IT security breaches do occur regularly (17% reported experiencing a breach in the past year) and account for an average of 3-4 days labour to fix.

"In the current climate of economic uncertainty it is easy to be persuaded that financial security is your top priority," said Robert Gorby, AVG's global head of SMB marketing.   "But it is equally imperative not to take one's eye off the ball by giving less focus to data security.  

"AVG is used by millions of small businesses worldwide and this report is an important part of our commitment to helping customers better understand the risks they face as they move to adopt the latest technology trends," he continued.

Highlights of the report are as follows:
Mobile working is on the increase:One in five SMBs (19%) are employing Android smartphones; an equal proportion to use BlackBerries and employees spend an average of one day a week (20% of their time) working away from the office. Very few SMBs are currently using antivirus or internet security for Smartphones (16%) or solutions for mobile workers (2%).

Social networking for business purposes is also on the rise:  More than a third of SMBs (34%) in the UK and US are using social networking in their business.   The most popular of these is Facebook, with 30% of SMBs claiming to have a profile or page (19% for LinkedIn, 17% for Twitter).   The most likely uses of social networking in business are for customer engagement and to share company/product information.

Traditional threats from email and viruses are still a concern: SMBs are still most concerned about more traditional sources of threat, such as email and web viruses (81% and 68% respectively). With respect to new technology around two-thirds (64%) were not concerned about mobile malware/viruses, while around one in six (16%) are worried about the theft of their data stored in the cloud.

Security breaches are relatively common:   One in six SMBs (17%) reported having experienced a security breach in the past year.   Results of breaches were reported to be more physical from computers slowing down (83%), to losing access to files (39%) or programs (31%) than psychological such as loss of customer data or business reputation.   For the past 12 months the overall cost of security breaches for SMBs was calculated at a total of:

  • 30 million lost man hours to rectifying issues
  • 1.18m(average 990 per business)  in the UK and $5.60m (average $1570 per business) USA  spent on replacing hardware
  • 2.19m (average 2800 per business) in the UK and $11.30m (average $4800 per business) USA in terms of lost sales or revenue opportunities.

About the survey
*Survey conducted by GfK of 1000 UK & US SMBs in August 2011

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