Small biz owners concerned about network security, convergence

Network SecurityIf it comes as a shock that small business owners are concerned about network security, then you have to ask yourself what rock you’ve been hiding under for the last few years.

However, a recent survey commissioned by Primus Canada reinforced the belief that small business owners are feeling vulnerable when it comes to the security of their networks. The survey also found that although most small business owners view digital convergence technologies (such as VoIP) as having a potential benefit on their organizations, less than a quarter of Canadian small businesses have adopted such technologies.

The reason? There’s a lot of anxiety going around related to technology.

“Our belief on why they are anxious about security is because the implications about making the wrong decision around your company’s security are much further reaching than the quality of your phone system or the reliability of your Internet connection or your email service, for example,” said Jeff Lorenz, vice president of sales and marketing at Primus Canada.

The survey, conducted by Angus Reid on behalf of Primus, surveyed 504 Canadian small business owners (who are also Angus Reid Forum panel members) with up to 50 employees, about their perceptions and thoughts on network technology. The survey did not go into specifics about why they had such thoughts, but Lorenz offered some speculations.

The fact is security breaches are a big market for cyber-criminals, and there’s a race between hackers and IT professionals who are trying to patch up security holes. Small business owners may be feeling caught in the middle, Lorenz said.

Additionally, with the economy being what it is, small business owners are sweating what many perceive to be a big financial commitment, he told

“Our hope is that we can now focus on educating the small business owner that, number one, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to get the right services and security in place,” Lorenz said.

There are many companies out there (you know, like Primus) that offer business-grade managed security services that can be easily integrated into existing small business infrastructures, he added.

“I believe that small businesses are a little bit apprehensive of the notion of outsourcing — that fear of unpredictable costs around IT,” Lorenz said.

The details of the survey included some interesting, but perhaps not surprising, stats around the perceptions of network security and convergence technologies. For instance, although 53 per cent of the small business owners surveyed said they felt digital convergence technologies would have a positive impact on their businesses in the future, only 22 per cent said they used convergence technologies (such as VoIP) very often or occasionally (even though 76 per cent of respondents using VoIP have experienced cost savings because of the technology).

Also noteworthy is that 31 per cent of small business owners are feeling anxiety about technology and the effect it has on their businesses. Of sole proprietorships with nine or fewer employees, 54 per cent admitted concern about their business networks.

The level of concern over technology varied by region. Manitobans are the biggest worrywarts, with 81 per cent admitted concern over IT and network security, whereas Saskatchewan small business owners were the least concerned at 48 per cent. When it comes to unease over technology in general, Quebecers are the most concerned (with 65 per cent admitting anxiety), while Saskatchewan and Atlantic Canada small business owners are the most easygoing (only 17 per cent feel anxiety about technology).

Confidence in having the right technology isn’t high anywhere in Canada, but Manitobans are the least confident (only seven per cent said they were confident they had the tools to maximize profit), whereas Albertans are the most confident (at 59 per cent). Overall around the country, only 40 per cent of small business owners said they were confident they had the technology in place to maximize profits.