Is freeware really free? That is the question small businesses should be asking when it comes to protecting their customer and other proprietary information, such as bank and credit card account details.
Small businesses are looking for the best deal in security software due to tight budgets. We’re all looking for ways to do more with less. However, how does a small business owner explain to a customer that their personal data was breached due to the fact that the “free” security solution that the business installed didn’t protect them against the latest threat?
The best analogy I have heard in the “to use or not to use freeware” debate is from Symantec’s Janice Chaffin. Chaffin recently said, “Free AV is very basic. It's like wearing a light windbreaker in a snowstorm." In other words, while you need antivirus, you also need more - you need a complete security solution that protects your business from today’s complex threats.
The recent “Imsolk” threat is a good example of why free security is a risky decision. Symantec Endpoint Protection blocked the worm before it became a problem for users – something many freeware solutions can’t do as they're reactively responding to threats, instead of proactively combating them. There are so many attack vectors nowadays to consider, and small businesses want to know that their software is preventing those attacks.
According to the recent Symantec 2010 SMB Information Protection survey, 73 percent of the small business respondents were victims of cyberattacks in the past year. Thirty percent of those attacks were deemed somewhat/extremely successful, and 100 percent of SMBs saw losses such as expensive downtime, loss of important corporate data as well as personally identifiable information of customers or employees. These losses led to direct costs including lost productivity, lost revenue and loss of customer trust – causing customers to leave and choose another merchant. With these stats, do you feel safe protecting your business and your customers’ information with a lightweight free security solution?
The numbers definitely make the case for complete protection. Having a complete protection strategy that includes security solutions and security best practices will help any business see that the cost is worth it, as many small businesses have found that freeware really isn’t free.