UPDATED 21:52 EST / SEPTEMBER 07 2020

SECURITY

COVID-19 and remote working deal small businesses unique security challenges

A new report from network security company Untangle Inc. finds that small to medium-sized businesses face unique security challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting boom in remote working.

The third annual SMB IT Security report, released today, polled more than 500 information technology professionals at SMBs and found that a growing number are doing more with less: Some 38% are allocating $1,000 or less to their IT security budgets in 2020, compared with 29% in 2019 and 27% in 2018.

Reflecting overall trends, 78% of those polled had employees temporarily working remotely, with 56% suggesting that some positions will remain permanently remote.

Although the vast majority of SMBs were found to be proactively putting tools in place to combat attacks and limit their vulnerabilities even with limited budgets, dealing with these challenges during a work-from-home shift was found to have created gaping vulnerabilities within networks while adding to already overburdened IT departments.

Almost a third of respondents identified budget limitation as their great barrier to cybersecurity, while almost a quarter identified employees who do not follow IT security guidelines.

The survey respondents ranked firewalls, antivirus protection, endpoint security, archiving management and backup and VPN technologies and web filtering as the most important features, in that order, when considering which IT security solutions to purchase.

Interesting, 45% said that large data breaches frequently mentioned in the media play a large part in how they approach network security and that they have adjusted or re-evaluated their IT security roadmap based on recent security breaches and ransomware attacks. Of those surveyed that experienced a data breach within the last 12 months, 15% were able to stop the attack or any unauthorized access before sensitive data was extracted.

“As the abnormal becomes our new normal, SMBs need to approach remote work by using a combination of cloud-based applications and on-premises solutions to keep employees and systems safe, and ensure business continuity,” Scott Devens, chief executive officer at Untangle, said in a statement. “SMBs should be looking for technologies that incorporate multi-layered network security tools and a hybrid network infrastructure, such as SD-WAN, to avoid large-scale network vulnerabilities, regardless of budget and resource size.”

Image: Untangle

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