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By Carl Weinschenk

This story in the Star Bulletin in Hawaii does a nice job of backing up its thesis that viruses are the main security problem for small businesses. The writer gives three reasons: Small businesses don't pay much attention to virus protection when they connect new equipment to the Internet, they neglect it on an ongoing basis by not keeping software up to date and they don't track which sites their employees frequent.

The bottom line is that online security always is evolving. The reality now is that big companies—which are smart and have lots of money and people to throw at various problems—recognized long ago that the bad guys and gals threatened their livelihood through email-delivered viruses. They therefore focused much more intently on the problem. This involved more adept corporate use policies that were better enforced and, of course, far better security hardware and software.

Small business people are equally smart. What they don't have, however, is the manpower to focus as intensely on the problem as their bigger cousins. There is no way to prove this, but it seems that the security concerns of small and large businesses are more different today. Small businesses may still be worried about viruses, while larger organizations have such good safeguards in place—especially against email-delivered viruses—that their main concerns are elsewhere.

There is one area in which small and large businesses—and consumers as well, for that matter—must be concerned. As email systems have tightened up, crackers increasing implant viruses in websites themselves. Often, these are legitimate sites that have no inkling that the malware has been introduced and threatened equally innocent visitors. This trend coincides with the much more interactive and collaborative nature of "Web 2.0" sites. The openness provides more opportunities to the crackers.

Small businesses may become more of a target as crackers have less luck attacking enterprises. They should react in three ways. They must think about and educate themselves on online security basics, keep anti-virus and other security software active and updated and consider outsourcing their security to companies that do this sort of thing for a living.

Carl Weinschenk is the Editorial Director of SmartBiz.


Carl Weinschenk is the Editorial Director of SmartBiz.
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