Why small businesses need to prioritise security in 2011

Running a small company is hard enough without taking unnecessary risks that could cost your business dear.

Would you leave the doors to your uninsured office unlocked and the windows wide open, hoping the robbers didn't notice? So why do so many small companies not only fail to put IT security at the top of their budget priorities but also fail to invest in data backup and business continuity solutions?

Statistically speaking

Small businesses commonly mistake size with visibility, assuming the smaller your business the less interesting it will be to the bad guys. In fact, the casual cyber-criminal is oblivious to business size; they’re simply looking for a security hole through which to climb. Cyber-crime is both well organised and highly automated, with bots running scans for security vulnerabilities across the internet, and others ready to exploit them with devastating implications for the small business.

This might help explain why 79% of small businesses in the UK experienced a security breach last year. The 2010 Information Security Breaches Survey revealed that the cost of recovering from a breach can be up to £55,000 for a small business; no wonder 70% of companies experiencing a major data loss go out of business within a year.

The danger doesn’t just stem from outside attack, however, with numerous threats coming from within your company. Users accidentally deleting large chunks of data. A virus infecting a laptop, which goes on to infect your network. A disenchanted employee doing deliberate damage.

Bearing this in mind, the most worrying statistic of all is that only 22% of small businesses back up data on a daily basis and 55% don’t have a formal disaster recovery plan.

Are you one of them?

How businesses lose their data

New malware is released and new software vulnerabilities discovered with alarming regularity. In the first six months of 2010 alone, an average of 50,000 new online threats were detected every single day.

Be it malware infection, identity theft through phishing and social engineering, ever improving password-cracking technologies or sloppy coding leading to exploitable vulnerabilities in software, the type of threats you’re exposed to is evolving fast and unpredictably.

Factor in the accidental impact of your employees knowing just enough about technology to be dangerous (copying data to a USB stick for some at home working, using business resources to visit high-risk websites, installing software they use at home which might inadvertently compromise your business security) and the threat landscape broadens even more.

Indeed, the security threat landscape can best be summed up in two words: dangerously dynamic.

How to defend your data

“Prevention is better than cure”; it’s an old saying but also true. In this context, it means a layered security approach is key. That not only means antivirus software and firewalls, but also strong password strategies and data encryption.

Software also has a key role to play. In particular, Microsoft’s Windows Storage Server 2008 makes it simple to deploy backup hardware into your network; you don’t have to worry about installing it, because it comes pre-installed with products such as Dell’s PowerVault range. And because it uses browser-based management tools, you don’t need to install any extra software either.

Once in place, you’ll be able to instantly recover lost files, save on storage space due to a clever compression technology called de-duplication, and even increase your storage capacity on-demand. And all without learning new skills: the interface will be familiar to anyone who’s used Windows.

So when it’s this easy to protect your data, can you really afford to risk losing everything by not having daily data backups coupled with a recovery strategy to quickly restore your business should the unthinkable happen? How long could your business survive if you lost access to your customer database, invoices, sales data, tax details and so on?

When it comes to delivering tailored data security solutions that fits the needs and budget of the small business, Dell has pretty much every eventuality covered: from a Backup and Recovery Manager which comes as standard on all machines and enables the hard drive to be backed up to an external USB device, through the PowerVault range of data storage server hardware pre-loaded with the aforementioned Microsoft Windows Storage Server, and not forgetting the cloud-based Dell DataSafe providing secure offsite backup coupled with a business-class disaster recovery service.

Read on to discover how to create a worry-free backup strategy, and the hardware and software you need to put in place.

Read more about:

Sign up for our free newsletter