Once viewed as easy marks by hackers and cybercriminals, small and midsize businesses (SMBs) are fighting back, states a study published June 21. According to a report conducted by Applied Research and published by Symantec, SMBs’ attitudes about security and data integrity have changed significantly over the past year, resulting in higher prioritization of security issues and more technology spending. “Last year when we conducted this survey, a lot of SMBs were very confident in their security posture, but they weren’t always clear on the threat,” said Symantec’s senior product marketing manager. “This year they realize they have gaps, and they are getting more serious — in fact, they rated data loss and cyberattacks as top risks, even above natural disasters.” In the study of 2,500 executives with responsibility for IT security — half from companies of less than 100 employees and half from companies in the 100-to-499 employee range — the researchers found new data-risk loss concerns. The respondents ranked data loss and cyberattacks as top business risks, ahead of traditional criminal activity, natural disasters, and terrorism. SMBs are now spending an average of $51,000 per year — and two-thirds of IT staff time — working on information protection, including computer security, backup, recovery, and archiving, as well as disaster preparedness. Loss of critical business information threatens SMBs, Symantec said. Seventy-four percent of the respondents said they are somewhat or extremely concerned about losing electronic information.

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