M'sian small businesses shun VPN

New study finds less than 5 percent of small businesses that use PCs have adopted virtual private network technology.

Nearly two in three small businesses in Malaysia do not believe in using a VPN (virtual private network), or are not aware of the technology, according to a recent report from AMI-Partners.

The study of 550 small and midsize businesses in the country also found that only 5 percent of small businesses are using VPNs, compared to 51 percent of medium-sized companies. AMI-Partners defines small businesses as those with fewer than 100 employees, and medium-sized ones as having between 100 and 999 employees.

Small businesses have also not been as quick to adopt patch management solutions, said the analyst. Thirty-one percent of midsize businesses have patch management software, compared to only 4 percent of small companies.

SMBs in Malaysia are no strangers to antivirus, antispam and antispyware software, noted AMI-Partners. Over 90 percent of SMBs use antivirus software; while 74 percent and 47 percent of midsize businesses and small businesses, respectively, have in place a spam filter. In terms of antispyware penetration, 65 percent of midsize businesses are using such software, compared to over 25 percent of small businesses.

The analyst predicted that the IT security spending of SMBs in Malaysia will reach US$45 million this year, a jump of 28 percent over last year. Spending on antivirus software alone accounts for a quarter of the overall investment.

Cindy Sim, a senior analyst at AMI-Partners, noted that current IT investment spending is driven mainly by medium to large businesses. However, she expects this to change within the next five years, when small businesses will account for nearly half of Malaysia's security spending.

"Small businesses in Malaysia will gradually come up to speed on security adoption, driven by increasing reliance on the Internet, growth in e-commerce and mounting awareness of the importance of business continuity measures," said Sim.

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