SMBs caught in a false sense of IT security

Canada’s small and medium sized businesses may be underestimating the need to plan for IT disasters compared to SMBs in other countries around the world, a new survey shows.

Symantec (Nasdaq: SYMC) surveyed 2,053 businesses in 30 countries about how they’ve adopted four technologies: mobility, server virtualization, private cloud and public cloud. All the companies ranged in size from five to 250 employees.

While Canadian SMBs have adopted all four of those technologies at the same rates as the global average, they appear less concerned than their foreign counterparts about protecting their data from possible security risks that may crop up with those types of IT.

Only 28 per cent of Canadian SMBs said concerns about disaster preparedness affected their decision to adopt mobile IT, lower than the global average of 36 per cent. That means Canadian companies were less worried about possible glitches with using mobile technologies than SMBs in other nations around the world.

The lower concern level was found in Canadian SMBs compared to the global average when it came to the rest of the three IT categories as well. Thirty per cent of Canadian SMBs said disaster preparedness concerns were a factor in adopting server virtualization, lower than the global average of 34 per cent. That trend continued with the adoption of private cloud (31 per cent were concerned in Canada vs 37 in the rest of the world) and public cloud (30 per cent were worried in Canada vs 34 per cent globally).

(Canadian SMBs) were slightly less concerned about the impact of disaster preparedness when implementing these technologies. That’s not a great thing. But it’s not drastically different (from the rest of the world),” said Monica Girolami, director of SMB product marketing at Symantec.

It’s not that Canadian SMBs overly confident compared with the rest of the planet, Girolami explained; it’s that SMBs worldwide are collectively not taking disaster preparedness into account as much as they should when adopting newer technologies, she said.

That finding is based on the fact that the survey also asked SMBs if they felt that adopting the four technologies has had a positive impact on their level of IT disaster preparedness. For both Canadian and foreign SMBs, over 35 per cent of SMBs felt the four types of IT (mobile, virtualization, public cloud and private cloud) had helped them boost their level of disaster preparedness. In fact, over 70 per cent of SMBs – both in Canada and abroad – felt virtualization has made them better equipped to avert or recover from an IT catastrophe.

That perception of being adequately prepared for the worst simply doesn’t mesh with the high level of IT security risk that exists today, Girolami said.

“There’s a discrepancy between the psychology and the reality,” she said. “(SMBs) are feeling more confident and prepared (for IT disasters). But they’re still experiencing downtime and outages. So moving to these technologies didn’t completely eliminate (disasters).”

The global average cost borne by companies as a result of a security or data disaster is $12,500 per incident per day, Girolami said, noting that it’s a cost that could put some SMBs out of business quickly. Companies of all sizes should make sure they should plan as early as possible for disasters, implement technologies to be prepared, ensure their information is completely protected, and review and test their disaster preparedness plans regularly to update it if needed.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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