The stampede from offices to working from home has strained IT security teams to their limits. As a result, SMBs find they need to get more bang for fewer bucks to fight off cybersecurity threats.

Network security firm Untangle on Sept. 8 released the results of its third annual SMB IT Security Report. Polling more than 500 SMBs, the report explores major barriers for managing IT security. The results reflect the growing challenges the pandemic caused in forcing massive shifts to remote work.

Nearly half of IT pros have altered their security plans as a result of large-scale breaches reported in the media. The report shows that IT teams, in addition to protecting their organizations from increasing cyberattack risks, must also contend with the unintended consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.

The survey revealed that as businesses consider more permanent plans for their employees, 56 percent will continue to have some employees work from home permanently. Another finding shows 38 percent of SMBs allocate US$1,000 or less annually to their IT budget.

SMBs are proactively putting tools in place to combat attacks. They are able to limit their vulnerabilities even though they continue grappling with limited security budgets and resource constraints.

However, dealing with these challenges during a cross-industry WFH shift has created gaping vulnerabilities within their networks. This adds another challenge to already overburdened IT departments.

“As the abnormal becomes our new normal, SMBs need to approach remote work by using a combination of cloud-based applications and on-premises solutions to keep employees and systems safe, and ensure business continuity,” said Scott Devens, CEO at Untangle.

SMBs should be looking for technologies that incorporate multilayered network security tools and hybrid network infrastructure, such as SD-WAN, to avoid large-scale network vulnerabilities, regardless of budget and resource size, he suggested.

This survey revealed a critical takeaway about the changing cybersecurity climate the pandemic thrust upon SMBs, warned Joseph Carson, chief security scientist and advisory CISO at Thycotic.

“The report is clear that SMBs do become victims of cyberattacks and that it is better to invest upfront rather than try to survive in a post cybersecurity incident,” he told TechNewsWorld.

Cutting Cybersecurity Corners

This year, Untangle asked SMBs to rank the features they consider important when purchasing or considering an IT security solution, according to Heather Paunet, vice president of product management at Untangle. One of the lower-ranking options was identity access and management.

“This is especially important now as employees may either be in the office, working remotely, or a combination of both. Having identity access and management solution, such as Directory Access or Captive Portal, can help IT teams ensure that those who are logging into the network have the correct credentials to do so,” she told TechNewsWorld.

This ranking mirrors another finding by Varonis in their 2019 Global Data Risk Report, she noted, where 53 percent of companies have over 1,000 sensitive files open to every employee in the company.

“As an SMB, many files should be segmented based on employee department or credentials, so it is even more important to have a verified identity access system in place,” she explained.

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