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Symantec: ‘file sharing poses greater risks to SMEs’

on Thursday, 09 August 2012. Posted in Technology

In this era of social, sharing is the name of the game. Whether it’s sharing holiday snaps on Facebook, music on Spotify, or projects on Huddle,

Symantec: ‘file sharing poses greater risks to SMEs’

 . .  we are always looking for new ways to disseminate files among friends, family and colleagues. But online sharing solutions – especially the lesser high-profile ones – have associated risks too, as security giant Symantec this week issued a warning that as file sharing solutions gain popularity in business, SMEs face increased security risks. Sounds pretty sensible to us…

Symantec  has been hard at work conducting research amongst its SME customer base, and the results suggest that small firms are being somewhat lackadaisical when it comes to security around file-sharing: while nearly three quarters said they adopted the technology to bolster their own productivity, 22% have not yet implemented policies restricting how employees can access and share files. Tut tut. (And that’s just those who’ve admitted it…)

They don’t even have the excuse that they’re  not aware of the risks of poorly managed file sharing practices: among respondents,  potential concerns included sharing confidential information using unapproved solutions (44%), malware (44%), loss of confidential or proprietary information (43%), breach of confidential information (41%), embarrassment or damage to brand/reputation (37%) and violating rules (34%). 

This is a problem SMEs need to address – and fast. Organisations that don’t protect themselves face an increased risk of data loss, and/or a potentially fatal cyber attack. ‘A staggering 71% of small businesses that suffer from a cyber attack never recover,’ says Symantec’s Rowan Trollope.

What’s more, with businesses becoming more geographically dispersed than ever (thanks to an increase in flexible/remote working), file sharing is becoming increasingly popular – a trend that is set to continue. Respondents predicted that one year from now, 37% of small firms will have employees working remotely (up 22% from three years ago and 32% today), and 32% will have employees who work from home (up 20% from three years ago, and 28% today). It also helps that the technology is cheap – or free – which is ideal for a business starting on a shoestring. 

So what can SMEs do to make sure they are better protected? Symantec helpfully suggests centralising file storage and management with a secure web-based system that is accessible regardless of device or location, so that companies protect data when people are logging in outside of the office. Sensibly, it also suggests keeping private files safe and separate from work –related content, as well as keeping a closer eye on how and when business files are shared.  Now that shouldn’t be too difficult, should it?

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