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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.