By Tom Espiner
20 Nov 2006
Small businesses must become more aware that they are the potential
victims of cybercrime, according to former White House security advisor
Speaking at an IT security event organised by managed services
specialist Claranet at the House of Lords on Monday, Schmidt said all
businesses are at risk through a lack of proper configuration of
security equipment, or through not taking proper security precautions.
"SMEs are not aware of being a potential victim spending 40 per year on
antivirus is not a high priority," he said. "SMEs have to realise that
just because they are small, it doesn't mean they won't be targeted. Bad
guys target wherever they can get money."
Ninety percent of small businesses and consumers install antivirus, but
10 percent never update the signatures, according to Schmidt. Small
businesses with limited staffing resources simply do not have time to
devote to cybersecurity issues, he said.
As well as malware, organisations need to be aware of important data
leaving the company, often through human error. Employees using
file-sharing networks are often not aware of the security implications,
"Individuals working on peer-to-peer networks often don't realise
they're sharing the whole contents of their drive. You can find Homeland
Security vulnerability assessment documents online from employees [using
However, Schmidt said that SMEs will eventually start using managed
software security services, with third-party providers managing both
low-cost application level security and end-point hardware.
"Eventually we'll move to a model of software as a service, with a
low-cost environment of managed security services," he said.
However, application software should have security built in from the
beginning, according to Schmidt, who said he looks forward to a time
when software will be able to configure automatically to a user's
system, and detect attempted security breaches.
"I don't think the end user should protect themselves. It's like safety
in new cars built in. They want automatically self healing and self
configuring software," said Schmidt.
Small business must take security into account in their planning, and
decide whether to outsource security, invest in training, or allocate
more resources. "Training is important because we don't know what we
don't know," said Schmidt.
If a small enterprise does have a full-time IT manager, they should
familiarise themselves with security standards such as ISO 17799, said
Schmidt. "IT managers need to follow best practices they should know
what security applies to which devices. The trouble is many times
they're far too busy."
Charlie McMurdie, detective chief inspector with the computer crime unit
of the Metropolitan Police, told ZDNet UK that "SME security is
disjointed at the moment".
McMurdie said that computer security should follow common sense
procedures. "If you had a house, what traditional measures would you
have around the premises? Who has a key? People need to apply the same
common sense to internet security. Stand back and look at who has
access, who has a password."
Schmidt is on the board of directors for Fortify a company that sells
source code analysis tools.
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