In business today, information is becoming more and more important. However, the costs and amount of information businesses deal with is huge and growing at a rapid pace. On average, enterprises spend $38 million annually on information, while SMBs spend $332,000. However, the yearly cost per employee for SMBs is a lot higher at $3,670, versus $3,297 for enterprise. Even more interesting, a recent survey reveals that information is expected to grow by 178 percent for SMBs in the next year. Without the advantage of economies of scale, small businesses need to rethink how they spend money on protecting their information.
In order for your business to run smoothly, you need to understand what information you have, be able to access it when and where you need it, and – above all – protect it. Symantec has just published its first ever 2012 State of Information Survey which looks into the value of information to businesses today and how much money is spent on managing and protecting that information. The survey also identifies the main areas where small businesses struggle to look after their data effectively. The report includes best practices for small businesses to better protect their information and reduce the cost of this valuable business asset.
Focus on the information, not the device or the data center
One of the most important things you can do is to develop a mindset that places information at the center of your IT operations, rather than the hardware. And this can be a daunting task: the survey revealed that the average SMB stores 563 terabytes of data, which is costing them $332,000 per year. With the use of mobile and cloud growing, information is no longer within the four walls of a company. Protection must focus on the information, not the device or data center. And while one recent survey showed that half of SMBs consider themselves too small to be a target for cyberattacks, the 2011 Internet Security Threat Report revealed that 18 percent of all targeted attacks are aimed at businesses with 250 or fewer employees.
Not all information is equal
One of the biggest problems facing SMBs today is simply knowing what information they are storing. The disorganization of their data means they also don’t know who owns what, or where the most important information is. This is particularly troubling in light of the fact that SMBs consider that their information makes up 40 percent of the worth of their business. Nearly half worry about the loss of customers if they were to lose business information, and they are also concerned about brand damage, increased expenses and reduced revenue.
To overcome these challenges, it’s important to classify and map your information, in order to discover what is most valuable and where it is being stored. That allows you to more easily understand where to place your focus as you implement protection measures, with stronger protection in the areas of greatest sensitivity.
As the amount of data you’re storing increases, you’re also storing more duplicate information. In fact, the survey showed that 41 percent of business data is duplicated, showing that they’re not getting the most out of their storage. The more places information is stored, and the less it is understood, the greater the chance it could be stolen. And this is a serious problem: nearly two-thirds of SMBs have lost information in the last year, and more than 90 percent have had confidential information exposed outside the company within the last year.
Consistency is key
Another challenge faced by businesses today is having their information stored outside the firewall, on mobile devices and in the cloud. This can make it all too easy to lose information - nearly two-thirds of businesses have lost important information within the last year. It may be from human error, hardware or software problems or device theft, but one way to keep your information safer is to implement consistent policies to govern information regardless of where it is stored. Consistent policies lead to consistent protection. In addition, be sure to thoroughly research cloud providers to find the best provider to meet your needs and offer the best protection for your information.
As an SMB, you need to plan for the future, and make allowances for the growth of information. That’s why it’s important to keep agility in mind as you build out your infrastructure. Be sure to maintain flexibility that will keep your business information available whenever you need it and wherever you need it.
The information you are collecting is more important than ever before. Take steps now to organize and protect your sensitive business information to make sure it remains an asset, rather than a liability.