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Symantec has launched a new tool giving small businesses a holistic view of how they measure up against their peers in terms of information protection efficiency and effectiveness.

The Symantec Small Business Check-up is a simple-to-complete online questionnaire that enables small businesses to benchmark themselves against survey results from 700 small businesses across Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA). The comparison allows participants to assess their organisation’s relative vulnerability to data risk and add information about their own environments to the benchmarking tool. The tool then provides them with an analysis of any gaps or inconsistencies that might cause exposure.

The Symantec Small Business Check-up has already revealed that smaller companies share a number of serious vulnerabilities:

‚Ä¢ Surprisingly, the majority of small businesses are just as susceptible to information risks as large organisations. According to the research, 80 per cent of small businesses have ‚medium’ to ‚high’ sensitivity to risk. This figure is based on amalgamating their exposure to risk factors including whether they are governed by industry regulation, hold sensitive information, would be disrupted by regulatory breaches, or use mobile technology.

• More than a third of small businesses (35 per cent) have little or no ability to track and audit the way information is created, modified, deleted, accessed and moved. This could leave them exposed to significant risk or potentially facing heavy fines in some instances

• Interestingly, 40 per cent of small businesses have not tested the effectiveness of their backup and recovery arrangements, to make sure they could get their data back in a timely manner following a failure.

‚IT budgets are under pressure as organisations of all sizes try to cut back in the current economic climate,‚ said David Ribeiro, small business account manager, Symantec. ‚We believe that almost every small business can save significant amounts of money and energy by simply taking a fresh look at the way they approach information protection. The Symantec Small Business Check-up is designed to show them just how easy and cost-effective it can be to ensure their information is completely protected.‚

‚We know from our research among small businesses that there are wide variances in how essential business information is stored and protected, despite the fact that many of them are subject to industry regulation,‚ continued Ribeiro. ‚Some companies don’t know how much they are paying to store and access their data, while others are able to minimise those costs. We know that most businesses use only about 30 per cent of their data storage, for example, and that by just managing the data more efficiently they can save money. The Symantec Small Business Check-up is designed to show whether there is room for improvement against competitors over a similar size in comparative industries.‚

‚Many small businesses have little idea how effective or efficient they really are in how they approach IT security and data protection when compared to their peers,‚ said Jon Collins, MD of research company Freeform Dynamics, which undertook the research on behalf of Symantec. ‚It can be difficult to gauge how they measure up, so there can be a tendency to let ignorance be bliss, even if it is not in the best interests of the business. The benchmark data from the Symantec Small Business Check-up will indicate potential areas of improvement, potentially helping identify areas these companies can reduce risk and avoid unnecessary costs by following best practices.‚

The Symantec Small Business Check-up can be found at: http://www.emea.symantec.com/smallbiz-checkup

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