28/06/2013 09:35 BST | Updated 27/08/2013 06:12 BST

Lax Consumer Habits Online Are on Collision Course With Business Security


Not so long ago consumer use of technology and business use were poles apart. Businesses were very security conscious, deploying network security software and often developing strict security policies and guidelines for their employees to adhere to. Consumers on the other hand were less cautious in their behaviour but showed little interest in buying security. Many were quite happy to install basic free products; a great many others did not even do that.

But the rapid rise in smartphones and tablets has led to a work phenomenon commonly referred to as BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). Coupled with Cloud-based business services, this has been a real game changer. So blurred have the boundaries now become that the more cavalier Internet habits of the sons, daughters, sisters, brothers or friends of every staff member have the potential to set the consumer and business world on a collision course.

For example, if you did not know that your brother had stopped using his smartphone because his kids had filled it up with junk mail and Facebook status updates and you suddenly got an email from him with an odd-looking link would you open it? Share it? Maybe you wouldn't. But what if a junior colleague received something similar from one of their social circle?

Small businesses have always taken their security very seriously. They are quite prepared to buy or let trusted IT service providers furnish them with more advanced security packages to protect them against Internet threats. Phishers and hackers have long realized that the best way to infiltrate a business is to disguise their malicious content inside an email that looks like it has come from a friendly source.

This is just one potential way for a company to suffer a data breach. According to research by Ponemon Institute, the cost of data breaches has continued to rise for the sixth consecutive year - the average cost per capita jumped from £79 to £86 last year. Customers and clients are increasingly sensitive about the data your business holds about them; a security breach could seriously jeopardise their trust. While a good many people are aware of the dangers of clicking on odd links and try to avoid accessing files while at unencrypted hotspots it is not safe to assume the same goes for everyone in the office.

Clearly there's a lot more to do in both at the company level and among consumers at large. And as new threats appear every day it's a never ending process. Nevertheless security that offers small businesses owners need a simple, 360-degree approach to managing their business internet security across all the various touch points is already available. And bearing in mind that Internet security is no longer confined to the four walls of the office many small business IT service providers are routinely offering their customers cloud-based small business protection.