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Four in 10 company networks in the US are not secure!

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In a poll of 455 IT executives in US SMBs, 42% said their networks were not secure even though 96% and 93% of respondents respectively said they had anti-virus and a firewall installed. 80% said they also used spam filtering. This may indicate that small and medium sized businesses are starting to doubt the effectiveness of traditional perimeter security products in protecting them from other security threats, including data leakage and network breaches.


Conducted by eMediaUSA on behalf of GFI Software, an international developer of network security, content security and messaging software, 39% of respondents to the survey said email viruses are the greatest risk to network security, followed by internet downloads (22%) and hacker attempts (10%). Only 7% considered insider attacks and the threat of portable storage devices – such as USB sticks, CDs, floppies, smartphones, MP3 players, handhelds, iPods, digital cameras – to be the greatest risk.


The survey also reveals that 32% of the US companies surveyed had suffered a breach over the past 12 months mainly due to a virus attack (69%), followed by infected internet downloads (30%) and loss of hardware, such as laptops (24%). Only 2% reported a breach involving some form of fraud or identity threat.


Commenting on the results, Andre Muscat, GFI’s Director of Engineering, said: “Email viruses top the ‘greatest threat to network security’ list and this does not come as a surprise. It is one of the easier attack routes and this is confirmed by those respondents who reported a breach. While companies are aware of, and are focused on, tackling viruses and malware, they appear to be giving sparse attention to other equally dangerous threats such as data theft and leakage from endpoints such as connected USB sticks, iPods and PDAs on the network.”


According to the survey, only 19% of the respondents said they had deployed an endpoint security solution on their network. This indicates that few companies may consider the fact that an employee’s iPod or USB stick can be a threat and used to copy data from the network or else install unauthorized software or upload viruses and malware.


“There are other issues as well. How many companies are aware of vulnerabilities on their network that are not addressed through Microsoft’s regular updates? At the end of the day, it boils down to education – from the top of the organization down to the users – Our survey shows that just under half of the respondents believe security could improve if employees were more aware of security issues, while 25% believe that management should also have a better understanding of security matters,” Mr. Muscat added.


On a daily basis, IT executives are most concerned with downtime (71%) while more than half of the respondents said daily user support was a concern. One in five said compliance was a daily concern; while a mere 3% indicated eDiscovery to be a daily issue.


When it comes to choosing the type of security measure to adopt, just under 90% said they used a software solution with 55% opting for a combination of software, appliances and hosted services.


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