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SMBs Struggling to Meet IT Security Needs in Pandemic, Study Finds

Scott Devens, CEO, Untangle
Scott Devens, CEO, Untangle

Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), strapped for cybersecurity resources from the strain of the COVID-19 pandemic, are stretching their IT security teams thin to accommodate network vulnerabilities and remote work, a new report said.

Trying to overcome those challenges has left “gaping” holes in SMBs’ networks, Untangle’s third annual SMB IT Security report, which polled some 500 SMBs, said. As a result, SMBs are proactively putting tools in place to combat cyber attacks and limit their organization’s infrastructure weak spots, according to the San Jose, California-based SMB network security specialist.

“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,” said Scott Devens, Untangle chief executive.

Here are some of the study’s key findings based on SMBs’ responses:

  • 38%: Allocating $1,000 or less to their IT security budget, compared to 29 percent in 2019 and 27 percent in 2018.
  • 78%: SMB employees temporarily working remotely.
  • 56%: May keep some positions permanently remote.
  • 32%: Identify budget as their greatest barrier, followed by employees who do not follow IT security guidelines (24%) and limited time to research and understand emerging threats (13%).
  • 82%: Antivirus protection is the most important feature in a cybersecurity solution, followed by (57%), endpoint security (48%), archiving management and backup and VPN technologies, (47%), and Web filtering (40%).
  • 71%: Firewall on site rather than in the cloud.
  • 45%: Adjusted or reevaluated their IT security road map based on recent security breaches and ransomware attacks.
  • 15%: Stopped a data breach or any unauthorized access in the last 12 months before sensitive data was extracted.

"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,” said Devens.

D. Howard Kass

D. Howard Kass is a contributing editor to MSSP Alert. He brings a career in journalism and market research to the role. He has served as CRN News Editor, Dataquest Channel Analyst, and West Coast Senior Contributing Editor at Channelnomics. As the CEO of The Viewpoint Group, he led groundbreaking market research.