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News

European businesses fear desktop software vulnerabilities

Symantec : 03 December, 2009  (Technical Article)
Symantec research indicates that security concerns over desktop software packages prevent businesses in Europe from performing upgrades
Worries over hackers targeting newer desktop software to find vulnerabilities were highlighted as a major concern for more than a third (35 percent) of European businesses when considering upgrades, according to research from Symantec, the global security, storage and systems management software company. In fact, the survey showed that European IT decision-makers are more likely to have upgraded their TV package (45 percent) or seat on a plane (35 percent) in the past three years than their business desktop software.

The survey, which questioned 1,400 IT decision-makers in the UK, France, Germany and Italy, highlighted that security concerns are being driven by media coverage of new software launches. Almost two thirds of all European businesses (62 percent) admitted that negative press coverage played a role in influencing their decisions to upgrade.

While companies across Europe appear to take a fairly cautious approach to upgrading, they do so for very different reasons. One third of businesses in Germany (34 percent) said they are more likely to upgrade only if it would put them at risk or cause problems if they were not to do so. Meanwhile, a quarter of Italian businesses surveyed (26 percent) said that they would prefer to wait until the majority of the market has upgraded and the technology is proven to be secure. However, 26 percent of French businesses would only consider upgrading if doing so would not cause computers to run slowly.

"The over-arching learning from this research is that European businesses are nervous about making the move to new software versions," said Robert Mol, Principal Product Marketing Manager EMEA, Symantec Endpoint Management and Security. "It is interesting to see the cultural differences in where these concerns lie and how far it will delay their investment. A quarter of European businesses (27 percent) stated they will hold off on upgrading for at least another 12 months. However, German companies are feeling more optimistic, with fewer than one in five (19 percent) planning to hold off investment."

Businesses in the UK take a slightly more bullish approach to desktop software upgrades, with a fifth of companies (22 percent) saying they like to upgrade in order to stay abreast of current technology. However, a further 21 percent said they prefer to wait for the technology to be proven by others first.

Resent research from IDC, "European SMBs and Security," looks at the investment plans of SMBs into security across Europe. The study showed some interesting similarities to the Symantec survey, with a key finding indicating that 30 percent of SMBs are planning to invest in increased security over the next 12 months.

"The very nature of SMBs calls for increased security investments," said Giuliana Folco, Research Vice President, European Industry Solutions at IDC. "Small and medium companies do not have sophisticated IT departments, sophisticated IT users, or established security policies. In this context, they are more exposed to security threats than large companies. It's good to see that they are starting to recognise how security can impact them when looking to upgrade their desktop software and they should ensure they take steps to prevent these associated issues."

Worries about security and disruption to business has meant that more than two thirds (72 percent) of European businesses are still using the Microsoft Windows XP operating platform, whilst just 15 percent have upgraded to Vista.

"With each new software version that is launched we see a barrage of challenges from hackers who are keen to expose any potential vulnerabilities, and naturally this makes for media headlines, said Robert Mol, Symantec. "It's vital that businesses are well informed when it comes to making decisions around software upgrades and are able to understand how best to navigate any migration challenges in order to build a safer, more secure computing environment for the future."

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