Survey: Data Loss Among Top Concerns For Small Businesses

Viruses, Trojans, data-stealing malware, and data leaks were rated as big IT concerns among small businesses, according to Trend Micro's 2010 corporate end user survey, which included 1,600 end users in the U.S., U.K., Germany and Japan.

On average, 63 percent of small businesses were most concerned by viruses, 60 percent by Trojans, 59 percent by data-stealing malware (malware designed by cybercriminals specifically to steal data), followed by 56 percent by data leaks -- the intentional or unintentional sending of sensitive or crucial information outside the corporate network. Phishing scams and spam were least concerning among the small businesses surveyed.

"What this tells us is that data loss, either through internal data leaks or malware, is a serious issue for small businesses, especially as they become more aware of their attractiveness to cybercriminals," said David Perry, global director of education, Trend Micro. It would not be surprising to see data-stealing malware and data leaks pushed up to number one and two on this list in the next few years." 

Despite these worries, the survey found that across all countries, small organizations are less likely by 23 percent to have preventative data leak policies in place than large companies.

The biggest difference was found in Japan where 81 percent of large companies have data leak prevention policies in place compared to only 47 percent of small companies.  For those businesses that have preventive data leak policies in place, employees in large companies are also significantly more likely to have received training on data leak prevention than those in small companies.

This is worsened by the fact that employees within large companies indicate more awareness of confidential business information than those in small companies. Employees in large U.S. companies are significantly more likely to indicate data leaks as a serious threat than those in smaller companies: 74 percent in large companies, 49 percent in small companies.

In the U.K., this is also significant: 73 percent of employees from large companies say they are aware of confidential information compared to 63 percent from small companies. Also worth noting is that in every country, employees in larger companies are significantly more likely to agree that other employees have leaked data from within their organization.

The survey found that the most prevalent forms of IT protection against data stealing malware is installing security software, restricting Internet access and implementing security policies.

Even then, 21 percent of small business employees still say that their IT departments can do a better job at protecting them on potential risks associated with data-stealing malware.  More alarmingly, more than one third (35 percent) of employees in small companies indicated their IT department could have done a better job educating them about data stealing malware.

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