Survey: SMBs Struggle with Security in BYOD Era

By Pedro Hernandez | Posted June 12, 2012

Sophos warns that aging small business networks might not be up to the task of securely accommodating remote workers, mobile devices and access to cloud services. A survey conducted by Vanson Bourne for the computer security firm reveals that the popularity of cloud services and mobile devices is taking its toll on small business IT departments.

The survey, which polled 571 IT managers in North America, Europe and Australia, found that 93 percent of the SMBs were adding remote work policies to their network security setups. Roughly half -- 52 percent -- expect to improve security in order to reduce the risks posed by remote workers.

And not a moment too soon.

Survey IDs Small Business Network Security Challenges

One in five of those surveyed admitted to having experienced a network outage due to malware in the last 12 months. The survey also revealed that the average age of a network firewall is five years old, with 34 percent of respondents hanging on to the same firewalls for five years or more.

Wi-Fi security also failed to inspire confidence in most small business IT managers. Only 21 percent felt very confident that their wireless networks could keep their data safe.

It all points to small business networks that fail to keep up with the times. "Trends such as remote working, mobile and cloud [computing] are having a huge impact on the way small and medium sized businesses think about protecting their networks," said Sophos CTO Gerhard Eschelbeck in a statement.

Growing cloud adoption and the BYOD phenomenon aren't helping matters.

Securing Mobile Devices and the Cloud

Secure access to cloud-based services emerged a major challenge for 44 percent of those surveyed, while thirty-nine percent cited mobile device management and sophisticated cyber threats as concerns. Data loss stymied 35 percent of respondents.

But there's some good news among all the doom and gloom. Security spending is poised to rise as 44 percent of respondents signal that they are investing more in small business IT.

"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 that the security fabric of the entire business is as robust as possible and able to support new and evolving technologies," commented Eschelbeck.

This tracks with a recent forecast from IDC, which points to steady growth in the small business IT security market as BYOD takes hold across all types of businesses.

According to the research firm, small business IT spending will grow 5 to 6 percent a year up to 2015, with security spending outpacing that rate by growing by nearly twice as fast. All told, SMBs will spend more than $5.6 billion on security products and services in 2015.

Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.

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