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Symantec Tool Challenges Small Businesses to Assess their Exposure to Information Risk

Symantec Corp. (Nasdaq: SYMC) has launched a new tool giving small businesses a holistic view of how they measure up against their peers in terms of information protection efficiency and effectiveness. The Symantec Small Business Check-up is a simple-to-complete online questionnaire that enables small businesses to benchmark themselves against survey results from 700 small businesses across Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA).

The comparison allows participants to assess their organisation’s relative vulnerability to data risk and add information about their own environments to the benchmarking tool. The tool then provides them with an analysis of any gaps or inconsistencies that might cause exposure.

The Symantec Small Business Check-up has already revealed that smaller companies share a number of serious vulnerabilities:

  • Surprisingly, the majority of small businesses are just as susceptible to information risks as large organisations. According to the research, 80 per cent of small businesses have ‘medium’ to ‘high’ sensitivity to risk. This figure is based on amalgamating their exposure to risk factors including whether they are governed by industry regulation, hold sensitive information, would be disrupted by regulatory breaches, or use mobile technology.
  • More than a third of small businesses (35 per cent) have little or no ability to track and audit the way information is created, modified, deleted, accessed and moved. This could leave them exposed to significant risk or potentially facing heavy fines in some instances
  • Interestingly, 40 per cent of small businesses have not tested the effectiveness of their backup and recovery arrangements, to make sure they could get their data back in a timely manner following a failure.

“IT budgets are under pressure as organisations of all sizes try to cut back in the current economic climate,” said Glenn Woolaghan, senior director for small business, EMEA. “We believe that almost every small business can save significant amounts of money and energy by simply taking a fresh look at the way they approach information protection. The Symantec Small Business Check-up is designed to show them just how easy and cost-effective it can be to ensure their information is completely protected.”

“We know from our research among small businesses that there are wide variances in how essential business information is stored and protected, despite the fact that many of them are subject to industry regulation,” continued Woolaghan. “Some companies don’t know how much they are paying to store and access their data, while others are able to minimise those costs. We know that most businesses use only about 30 per cent of their data storage, for example, and that by just managing the data more efficiently they can save money. The Symantec Small Business Check-up is designed to show whether there is room for improvement against competitors over a similar size in comparative industries.”

“Many small businesses have little idea how effective or efficient they really are in how they approach IT security and data protection when compared to their peers,” said Jon Collins, MD of research company Freeform Dynamics, which undertook the research on behalf of Symantec. “It can be difficult to gauge how they measure up, so there can be a tendency to let ignorance be bliss, even if it is not in the best interests of the business. The benchmark data from the Symantec Small Business Check-up will indicate potential areas of improvement, potentially helping identify areas these companies can reduce risk and avoid unnecessary costs by following best practices.”

The Symantec Small Business Check-up can be found at: http://www.emea.symantec.com/smallb...

Top Five Information Protection Tips for SMBs
Symantec has put together the tips below for SMBs to help them ensure they are protecting all the information held by their business.

Get into back-to-school mode: Develop Internet security guidelines and educate employees about Internet safety, security, and the latest threats. Employees that know what they can click on and what they should stay away from is an important step. It is also important to change passwords regularly and never share them with anyone.

The front door is locked - what about the company information?
SMBs are facing increased risks to their confidential information so safeguarding this data is critical. One data breach could mean financial ruin for an SMB. Implement a complete protection solution to ensure proprietary information-whether its credit card information, customer data or employee records-is safe.

Implement an effective backup and recovery plan: Protecting information is more than implementing an antivirus solution. Backup and recovery is a critical component of complete information protection to keep SMBs’ desktops, servers and applications running smoothly in case of disruption-whether it’s a flood, an earthquake, a virus or a system failure. One outage could mean customer dissatisfaction and costly downtime, which could be catastrophic to the business.

Secure email and web assets: Select a mail and Web security solution that can help mitigate spam and email threats so SMBs can protect sensitive information and spend more time on day-to-day activities. Spammers and phishers will use current events and social engineering tactics to get users to give up personal information such as credit card and banking information.

Always on the go? Don’t forget endpoint protection
Instead of solely focusing on devices, such as laptops, SMBs need to take a step back and look at where their information is being stored and protect those areas accordingly. In addition to encryption and security updates, it is important to enforce password management for managers and employees. Maintaining strong passwords will help protect the data stored on a laptop if a device is lost or hacked.

 [July 22, 2010]


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