Business Family

Privacy & security: two sides of the same coin

October 29, 2013

There can be no doubt that low-cost Cloud-based services like Dropbox, Skype and Salesforce are proving a positive boon for small businesses. Add to this how rapidly smartphones and tablets

There can be no doubt that low-cost Cloud-based services like Dropbox, Skype and Salesforce are proving a positive boon for small businesses. Add to this how rapidly smartphones and tablets have become an inseparable part of our work and family lives and it’s not surprising that small businesses are left wondering how to keep company data safe once it’s been shared with so many diverse applications and devices.

When we talk about the safety of data we’re no longer simply talking about IT security in the traditional sense of antivirus or email filtering. We’re talking about the safety of all aspects of company data whether it’s stored, in the network or on the move.  For example this includes protection against data loss and privacy measures to prevent data breaches.

Privacy it turns out isn’t just for those with something to hide. Privacy is something that customers have every right to expect. At present, the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has had the power to fine organisations up to £500,000 for failing to prevent data breaches. Such fines will increasingly apply as much to small businesses as they do to large ones as the regulatory bodies seek to clamp down on perceived security weaknesses among smaller companies in the supply chain.

It therefore increasingly looks as if privacy and security are simply two sides of the same coin.

According to the 2013 Information Security Breaches Survey by the UK’s Department of Business Innovation Skills 87% of small businesses in the UK experienced a security breach last year. In addition, affected companies experienced roughly 50% more breaches on average than a year ago. And if this wasn’t already enough, the fallout from the NSA surveillance scandal and a rise in cyber crime targeted at small business show that privacy – in the sense of protection for confidential company/customer data – is climbing up the small business agenda.

The UK’s Federation of Small Business this year found that 41 percent of members had been a victim of cybercrime at an average cost of £4,000 per business.  Around three in 10 members had been a victim of fraud, typically by a customer or client (13percent) or through ‘card not present’ fraud (10percent). Elsewhere research by Ponemon Institute showed the cost of data breach has continued to rise for the sixth consecutive year – the average cost per capita jumped from £79 to £86 last year. Negligence remains the main cause of data breaches, closely followed by malicious or criminal attacks.

And the picture is by no means confined to the UK. The problems facing small businesses from data breaches in the US are just as great.  A white paper released by our very own Siobhan MacDermott in summer this year references a report by Javelin Strategy and Research which highlights “billions of dollars” in fraud and losses resulting from data breaches. A record 1,611 breaches were recorded in 2012 – an increase of 48 percent from the year before. Elsewhere a Ponemon Institute survey revealed that 55 percent of US small businesses suffered a data breach and 53 of those businesses incurred multiple breaches.

Privacy for company confidential information is a global issue and the target of constant threats. Small businesses that think their modest size means they are not a target need to focus on the bigger picture. Taken together SMBs represent a substantial proportion of the market. Add to this the perception that they are less well equipped to defend against cyber attacks and it’s easy to see why they make an ideal target for cyber criminals.

AVG believes the best way to help small businesses take back control of their privacy and security is to offer them a simple, integrated approach that where everything is managed via the same, single pane of glass.  For most small businesses the first person they turn to for help and advice on security issues is their trusted IT provider.  That’s why we want resellers and managed services providers to join us in educating small businesses that this is by far the most efficient and cost-effective way to protect all of their data.

With AVG CloudCare cloud-based security working in tandem with AVG Managed Workplace remote management tools our channel partners can bring immediate peace of mind to customers needing to protect their data regardless of whether staff are in the office, at home, or on the road.

You may think you have privacy and security all sewn up.  But do you really?  Why not take a few minutes to find out by taking our small business IT security health check .

Mike Foreman
October 29, 2013