Ajay Goel, Managing Director for India and SAARC at computer security major Symantec shared his views on IT for Indian SMEs with Faiz Askari, Editor – North, SupportBiz.
The cost of acquiring new technology plays an important role in IT buying decision. What is your take on it?
SMBs traditionally have had low IT budgets and this has significantly hampered their IT infrastructure in terms of new technology adoption and skilled staff.
But as SMBs witness the evolution of cyber threats, they are increasingly aware for their own vulnerability to cyber-attacks. Also, with automation being seen in the regular systems and processes SMBs cannot ignore the importance of IT in business operations.
Clearly, the resultant cost benefits, increased agility and fewer burdens on IT teams is making this a profitable option.
What are your expectations from technologies like Cloud Computing with regards to SMEs?
Cloud computing is no longer a new term for Indian businesses. According to latest report by IDC, the cloud computing market in India is expected to grow at a CAGR of 40 percent by 2014, from an estimated USD66.7 million in 2009, driven by cost and performance efficiencies.
The cloud is rising in priority – particularly among small and medium-sized businesses in India; the advantages of a pay-as-you-go model, apart from the ability to scale rapidly and leave the nitty-gritty of managing IT to a cloud provider, are significant.
Recent research from AMI-partners shows that in emerging markets such as China, India, Brazil and Russia, SMB cloud service spending and investments through service providers will increase nearly six fold from USD111 million in 2011 to USD615 million by 2015. This represents a four-year annual growth rate of 54 percent.
As confidential data explodes outside the four walls of the office, the cloud model promises significant benefits in managing and securing both the devices as well as the data on them. Particularly, it can help SMEs tackle the lack of staff with required skillsets in dealing with new IT trends.
At the same time, the rising frequency and cost of data breaches makes this a problem that small businesses cannot afford to ignore. With the cloud, however, SMEs don’t need to choose between security and productivity: it frees them from IT, budgetary and operational constraints that can keep them from moving forward and achieving business goals.
Security threats are evolving and growing. What is the level of awareness and preparedness on this front by Indian SMEs?
The security landscape is constantly changing, so the threats businesses face today are different from the threats of a year ago – or even six months ago.
The Symantec Internet Security Threat Report (ISTR) XVI reveals significant changes to the threat landscape in 2010, including an increase in volume and sophistication of threat activity; continued growth of social networking sites as an attack distribution platform; and a change in attackers’ infection tactics. In addition, the report explores how attackers are exhibiting a notable shift in focus toward mobile devices.
The internet forms an integral tool for conducting business today. As SMBs evaluate adoption of some technologies for various benefits; they need to be aware about not making mistakes that can affect the running of their business.
Some of the common security and data protection mistakes that small businesses make are: lack of proper security software and policies, not scheduling a regular data back-up, not having a disaster preparedness plan, falling for social media scams and not buying real software.
SMBs are not aware which technology is really going to keep them safe against the latest malware and threats generated by cybercriminals. The evolving threat landscape regularly presents new and creative ways for cyber criminals to attack their networks, steal information and make money in the process.
The typical SMB understands the importance of implementing countermeasures to mitigate the effects of external as well as internal threats, but they do not treat information security as an issue that needs to be addressed more comprehensively.
For instance it is important for SMBs to be advised that only an endpoint security solution can fully protect their data and just installing an anti-virus solution is not enough for the same purpose.