Fifty percent of all small and medium-sized businesses face
an inevitable security breach by 2003, according to a survey released by analyst
GartnerGroup this week.
Gartner says smaller companies particularly lack the security expertise necessary
to fend off computer attackers. Its research suggests that, without taking immediate
steps to remedy the situation, fifty percent of these businesses will
be the victim of a successful hack or a damaging virus outbreak in the next
couple of years.
It also suggests that as much as sixty percent of companies may not
realize that their defenses have been breached until serious damage has been
More business, more risk
The research paints a gloomy image for small to medium enterprises and a lawless
picture of computer trends. A growing amount of evidence suggests that potentially
damaging computer attacks have become an inevitable hazard for modern businesses.
This is reflected in the fact that a number of corporate
insurance policies now include malicious hacking as a potential cause of
"With small and midsize enterprises doing more business on the
Internet, their networks are exposed to security breaches," comments Gartner
research director James Browning in a release. "Defensive action is required
to protect the enterprise from unauthorized and malicious users."
As well as employing all the usual antihacking technologies, such as firewall
and antivirus software, Gartner recommends that small companies have a professional
security firm carry out an audit of potential security risks at least once a
Particularly precarious companies such as financial institutions should, however,
carry out a more comprehensive security reviews, Gartner recommends.
A particularly weak link for small firms is remote access, says the Gartner
study. It recommends that all firms use encrypted virtual private networks (VPNs)
to ensure that connections from other locations are secure.