Complacency can be one of the biggest threats to small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) from a security standpoint. Too often, SMB leaders think 'we're only a tiny company, we won’t come under attack' - but they couldn't be more wrong. Businesses of all sizes are finding themselves the victims of viruses, malware, Trojans and hacker attacks, and the repurcussions can be serious. IT security breaches can cost companies time, money and ultimately their reputations - something that could easily put them out of business.
To what extent are SMBs at risk?
The government's 2013 Information Security Breaches Survey indicated that 87 per cent of UK SMBs had experienced an IT security breach in the past year. This was up from 76 per cent in 2012, suggesting the dangers faced by small companies are increasing. The average cost of the worst security breach for SMBs was between £35,000 and £65,000.
David Willetts, the Minister for Universities and Science, said it is "vital" that companies keep electronic information safe and secure. "Companies are more at risk than ever of having their cyber security compromised, in particular small businesses, and no sector is immune from attack," he claimed. "But there are simple steps that can be taken to prevent the majority of incidents."
What should SMBs do to improve security?
Many SMBs have limited IT budgets, and cannot afford to spend thousands of pounds each year on enterprise security solutions. But the good news is, they do not have to. Microsoft Security Essentials is available for free to businesses with up to ten PCs, offering anti-malware protection for your company's IT. The solution - available to users on Windows Vista and Windows 7 - helps guard against viruses, spyware, and other malicious software.
All you need to access Security Essentials is an internet connection, since the solution can be downloaded straight on to your PCs and laptops. This is no registration process requiring billing or the collection of personal information - it really is no strings attached. Security Essentials installs on your systems after a quick download and Genuine Windows validation.
How to keep Security Essentials up to date
As the end-user, you don't need to worry about keeping Security Essentials up to date. The solution automatically updates itself with the latest protection technology, ensuring your SMB has the protection it needs to operate safely online. And you don't need to worry about the programme interfering with other tasks your computer runs, or the work you are doing. The anti-malware tool runs quietly in the background, and schedules scans when the system is most likely to be idle. The only time you, as the user, will receive alerts is when you need to take action.
How to check on your security status
You can check on the health of your computers by visiting the Microsoft Security Essentials home page. If you can see a green icon, this means the system is secure - this will change to yellow or red should there be an issue.
A yellow icon means that status is fair or potentially unprotected. This means there may be action to take, such as turning on real-time protection, running a system scan, or addressing a medium-severity or low-severity threat. If the icon is red, it means your computer is at risk and you need to address a high or severe-level threat in order to protect it.
Downloading the right version
The version of Security Essentials your SMB uses will depend on the computers and operating system you use. Different versions exist for the 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows Vista and Windows 7 - you simply select the version appropriate to your system.
If you have already upgraded to Windows 8 there is no need to worry, since Microsoft's latest operating system comes with Windows Defender in-built. This offers the same level of protection against malware as Security Essentials.
Click here to find out more about Microsoft's IT security solutions for SMBs.
Posted by Alex Boardman