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SMEs need to up their security game or risk becoming a target

26 Apr 2016

SMEs are trailing far behind their larger counterparts when it comes to securing their data, according to new research from Versasec.

Joakim Thorén, Versasec CEO, says some reasons for the disparity in security readiness may be that SMEs have not as often been the targets of hackers, privately held companies don’t face the same pressures for security as do their public-company counterparts, and that they simply may have pushed off the issue.

However, as larger companies become increasingly sophisticated around security, hackers are re-aiming their sites at smaller companies, and many are simply not prepared, he says. For instance, of those surveyed, nearly 40% admitted they would like to better understand smart card management tools to help them meet their company’s security needs.

Other key findings of the study, which polled information technologists in a broad range of industries, included the following:

Mobility is daunting: Respondents from companies of all sizes cited mobility as the technology that poses the greatest security concern for them (43%). Other concerns include cloud usage (32%) and external devices/BYOD implementations (22%). The crux here, however, is that although SMEs are mature enough to recognise these security challenges, they may not be ready yet to invest in addressing them, as is evidenced by the next data point, Versasec says.

Network security is a key focus: Survey respondents said network security, at 74%, was where they are focusing their security efforts this year. Other key areas for investments in security include physical security (43%), two-factor identification (41%), and cyber security (37%).

Heavy reliance on simple security: The vast majority of respondents (86%) say username and password are a primary method for authenticating access to their company’s data, despite the very public breaches faced by many companies over the last few years. Physical smart cards are in use at slightly more than half the companies (54%). Other methods the companies said they use include public key infrastructure (43%) and one-time password (31%). Biometrics and virtual smart cards are distant followers, at just 16% and 12%, respectively.

Budgets are not security focused: Slightly more than 40% of those surveyed said their companies have committed just 0% to 10% their IT budget on security for 2016. Approximately 36% said security spending this year would consume between 10% and 25% of their budget. An additional 12% said they would spend between 25% and 50% of their budget on security.

“It will be interesting to look at these numbers in a year’s time and see whether the SMEs are stepping up their security spend, and why. For now, we are encouraged to see the interest in using smart cards as it’s the easiest and most cost effective way for securing a company’s IT domain today,” Thorén says.

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