SMBs wake up to managed security services

More small- and medium-sized businesses are taking advantage of managed services providers such as Messagelabs, in order to avoid client-based antispam and antivirus applications, which can hamper employees' ability to concentrate on their core job function.By paying for a managed security service, small companies are able to redirect their Internet and e-mail access through a proxy server owned by the service provider, that filters out spam and e-mails containing malicious file attachments.

More small- and medium-sized businesses are taking advantage of managed services providers such as Messagelabs, in order to avoid client-based antispam and antivirus applications, which can hamper employees' ability to concentrate on their core job function.

By paying for a managed security service, small companies are able to redirect their Internet and e-mail access through a proxy server owned by the service provider, that filters out spam and e-mails containing malicious file attachments. The services do not come cheap but can work out cost effective depending on the type and quantity of spam received.

Grant Raubenheimer, manager of the 100 room Observatory Hotel in Sydney, said that spam and virus attacks could easily knock out the hotel's mission critical processes, which become even more important as inefficient manual procedures are phased out.

"Mission critical for us would be checking people in and out. If we can't do that we can't operate a hotel. I come from a manual background and I was trained on manual processes but I don't think any of the kids on the desk or in the restaurant would have any idea how a manual system works.

"Tech has gone so far we have forgotten the manual system," Raubenheimer said.

According to Raubenheimer, the hotel uses planned system downtime to refine employee's "offline" skills.

"We often do practises. If we have a crash how do we handle it? When we update systems, for eight hours we run manual systems. We try and train those people by explaining that, 'when you click this button and it does this, well in a manual system you have to do it this way'. They are so computer reliant that they forget [the manual system]," he said.

Mario Robles, financial administration manager at Sydney-based Poole's Rock Wines, told ZDNet Australia that he is in charge of the company's finances, IT security and general operations, which means he doesn't have much time to deal with spam or ensure that desktops are up to date with patches and antivirus signatures.

"If our server was down due to a virus it would definitely affect the company. It could represent the livelihood of many families," said Robles, who said he was amazed that spammers are able to target e-mail addresses that don't even exist.

"We had a new sales rep start on 15 January but we created his e-mail address on 1 January. When he started he had 15 or 20 spam e-mails already -- but he had never used his e-mail," said Robles.

Both the Observatory Hotel and Poole's Rock Wines recently subscribed to Messagelabs' e-mail filtering services.

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