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Poor European awareness of scale of IT threats.

Forcepoint : 23 July, 2007  (Technical Article)
The changing threats to IT systems are not being addressed adequately in European businesses according to a survey by Websense.
Research by Websense has revealed that small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) throughout Europe are failing to protect themselves against today's emerging security threats. The SMB State of Security (SOS) survey highlighted the increasing use of potentially unsafe Web sites and applications by employees, coupled with a dangerous lack of understanding regarding the security threats these sites pose. Yet, both IT Managers and employees believed their jobs would be at risk for infecting the company with malicious code (45% and 83%, respectively). Moreover, the research also exposed a worrying discrepancy between IT managers' perception of the protection they have in place and their real state of security.

The study of 750 IT managers and general employees in SMBs in five European countries, found that 98% of IT managers believed their technology and processes were adequate, with over half (53%) believing their company to be very well protected against security threats and a quarter feeling 100% protected. Yet when questioned further, it emerged that the vast majority of SMBs failed to defend themselves against security holes by blocking peer-to-peer, filtering Internet use, and blocking attachments to instant messages. Of the list of nine potential security risks, not a single company protected against all of the threats - with 15% believing firewall and antivirus solutions were sufficient protection for their business.

2007 SMB State of Security Key Findings:.

EQUAL PROTECTION: 71% of SMB IT managers felt that they should have the same level of Internet security as a large organisation.

JOBS ON THE LINE: While 76% of employees surveyed believed that they could be sacked for leaking sensitive company information, 45% admit engaging in activity that could put their company's data at risk.

BLIND CONFIDENCE AMONGST EMPLOYEES: 66% of users were confident that their IT department was protecting them from all Internet security threats.

RISKY SURFING: A quarter of employees surveyed said they could not live without peer-to-peer file sharing during their work day. 17% admit to using free software download sites at work.

LACK OF SECURITY: SMBs in Europe are not fully protected from Internet security threats. Amongst the findings:.

- Only 6% block USB devices and iPods.
- Only 22% block peer-to-peer applications.
- Only 30% block instant message attachments.
- Only 31% block phishing sites.

PAPER POLICIES - 84% of SMBs in Europe have Internet usage policies but only 25% ensure that employees sign them. Only 47% automate their policies by using Web filtering software.

'Smaller IT budgets and fewer technical staff has left many SMBs with gaping holes in their Internet security systems. Many of these organisations are failing to control the use of applications such as peer-to-peer or block access to malicious Web sites such as phishing sites, both vehicles of data theft,' said Mark Murtagh, Websense. 'Internet t hreats are just as real for SMBs as they are for large enterprises. While most SMB's now possess a basic level of protection against these risks, the vast majority fail to defend themselves from the complete spectrum of threats and - as a consequence, are putting their company, its employees and its data at risk.'

'Web 2.0 applications, such as social networking sites like My Space and Facebook, are increasing the personal use of the Internet at work,' continued Mark Murtagh. 'These applications create security and productivity challenges. It is no longer enough to rely solely on firewalls and antivirus solutions as these precautions still leave the organisation exposed to risk.'
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