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Large number of small businesses attacked online

News Release

Symantec Survey Reveals 63 Percent Of New Zealand Small Businesses Have Been Impacted By A Malicious Attack

Viruses, Worms, Blended Threats And Hackers Are Top Of Mind For Small Businesses

Symantec, the global leader in information security, announced today that 63 percent of small businesses in New Zealand have been impacted by a malicious online attack. According to a survey conducted by the Employers and Manufacturers Association (EMA) on behalf of Symantec, Internet security and virus protection are the most common IT concerns small businesses face, followed by the cost of licenses, upgrades, and hardware.

“It is not surprising that small businesses are very concerned about malicious code and Internet security as virus writers and hackers become more prolific and more sophisticated,” said Richard Batchelar, New Zealand Country Manager, Symantec. “With limited resources and smaller budgets than larger organisations, small businesses can be particularly vulnerable to Internet threats and often lack the appropriate protection. As Internet threats become more sophisticated, small businesses need more sophisticated defences.”

Contributing to the high number (63 percent) of small businesses affected by malicious attacks, many companies appear to rely solely on their ISP to protect their businesses from security threats. Of the 207 respondents only 17 percent have antivirus software installed; while 34 percent have either firewall software or a firewall appliance installed.

The survey revealed that spam is also a major concern for small businesses in New Zealand. Of the companies surveyed, 31 percent employ spam filtering technology yet the number of spam emails received per day is still high at an average of 98. The time wasted dealing with spam is the third most cited IT issue impacting small businesses.

While 67 percent of companies surveyed have a policy in place to guide employees on safe Internet security practices, 39 percent don’t keep their staff regularly updated on their current Internet security policy.

Budgetary constraints may also be preventing some businesses from investing in Internet security technology with more than half of those surveyed spending less than NZ$19,000 on IT annually. This amounts to between 5 and 10 percent of their IT budget spent on security. The financial impact of an Internet security attack, including time, lost data and repairs, is significant for a small business with one company surveyed estimating the cost to be NZ$100,000.

Alisdair Thompson, CEO of EMA, says the financial cost of an attack to a small business should be a strong incentive for businesses to invest in security solutions:

“With the number of viruses and hacker attacks on the rise, businesses can no longer afford to risk the severe financial losses associated with being victimised by a major online attack. It is reassuring to see that small businesses in New Zealand are concerned about Internet security, but there is plenty of room for them to do more to protect themselves against increasing threats.”

Manufacturing businesses account for 33 percent of respondents, and 70 percent had an annual turnover of more than NZ$1million. The average number of employees in the organisations surveyed was 41.

About Symantec Symantec is the global leader in information security providing a broad range of software, appliances and services designed to help individuals, small and mid-sized businesses, and large enterprises secure and manage their IT infrastructure. Symantec’s Norton brand of products is the worldwide leader in consumer security and problem-solving solutions. Headquartered in Cupertino, Calif., Symantec has operations in more than 35 countries.

More information is available at


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