APAC SMBs to keep spending on IT

update Symantec survey reveals 84 percent of small and midsize businesses in Asia-Pacific region intend to increase or maintain their level of IT spend.

update SINGAPORE--The majority of SMBs (small and midsize businesses) in the Asia-Pacific including Japan region, intend to increase or maintain IT spending this year, in spite of the current economic situation, a Symantec survey has found.

The antivirus company announced Thursday during a media briefing, 57 percent of the 600 SMBs surveyed in the region intend to increase spending, and 27 percent expect to maintain IT budgets.

According to Don Ng, enterprise security director, Asia-Pacific at Symantec, most of the budgets will go to storage for disaster recovery purposes.

While awareness of threats was ranked at a low 33 percent, Symantec said there has been a steady rise in that respect over the past year as a result of high profile attacks such as Conficker.

While business owners used to think only companies with data worth hijacking would be susceptible to attacks, "now SMBs know that viruses are indiscriminate, and attacks are automatic", Ng said.

This was reflected in the survey, Ng said, where the top three concerns were viruses, data breaches and loss of confidential or proprietary information.

The top three spending priorities were system upgrades, automated patch management and data replication, the survey found.

But the biggest shortcoming plaguing SMBs is the lack of inhouse security expertise--an issue that SMBs may just have to "live with", said Ng.

With a small IT staffing of just one or two, these personnel are "constantly multitasking" to keep systems up and there is no focused expertise on security issues, he said. And till SMBs grow larger, they may not be able to justify hiring a bigger IT security base, all the same.

Among respondents, 40 percent said lack of employee skill sets was a top barrier to security, while 41 percent cited budget restrictions.

These findings were part of a larger global study of 1,425 companies performed by Applied Research, and marks the first time the Asia-Pacific region has been included in the survey.

In the United States, 50 percent out of the 200 SMBs surveyed said they planned to increase spending on IT security and storage, while 70 percent were concerned about spam and data breaches.

In Australia and New Zealand, 52 percent of 100 respondents said they would increase spending, with 18 percent maintaining their budgets. Backup and recovery of data were the concern of 88 percent of those polled.