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Communications and Technology Industry Research
Industry Research Featured Article

October 18, 2007

SMB Investment in VoIP and Network Security to Increase


It’s not difficult to see how businesses can benefit from today’s new VoIP and Unified Communications (News - Alert) solutions. They engender productivity and efficiency in workforces, and are designed to simplify deployment and management for IT professionals and drive increased collaboration between vendors to ensure the availability and reliability of solutions.

 
However, despite the tremendous cost and business efficiency gains these opportunities offer, they also create additional vulnerabilities in the networks on which they are installed. Simply by increasing the number and types of devices that have access to network resources, these solutions increase the work network managers have to do to ensure effective security measures are in place. 
 
Whereas, not that long ago, email-based threats over wired networks were the sole concern. Today, however, not only are wireless networks deployed in the majority of businesses, but the devices accessing networks vary in nature as much as they do in the vendors that develop them. 
 
Add to that the complexity of routers, switches, gateways, and other network elements, some or all of which can be from different vendors as well, and end-to-end network security without compromising network performance becomes a difficult endeavor.
 
Of course, this presents a tremendous opportunity for the countless companies actively developing and enhancing security solutions to effectively protect networks of all sizes, from small home offices to the largest carrier networks. As new network applications are developed, and as new threats and vulnerabilities are discovered, these companies are quick to develop patches and enhancements to their security solutions to derail potential risks.
 
But these security solutions do not come without a cost, and it is no secret that businesses of all sizes are on a constant mission to cut costs wherever they can.
 
The good news, according to a survey conducted by Astaro (News - Alert) Corporation, which is one of the many vendors helping IT managers secure their networks, is that the majority of SMBs it recently surveyed — nearly seven out of ten, in fact — plan to increase their security budgets for the upcoming fiscal year.
 
Sixty percent of respondents indicated an understanding of the need for reliable security to eliminate vulnerabilities, prevent data leakage and theft, and protecting network- and Web-based applications from attacks. Importantly, these respondents also said they plan to invest in security measures to combat these security risks. 
 
Given the preponderance of wireless access devices in businesses today, still another positive sign is that 50% of respondents indicated security for laptop computers and other wireless devices is also a priority. Presumably, a large portion of the “other” 50%, have yet to deploy wireless devices on their networks.
 
In terms of security spending, more than a third of respondents will set aside at least $50,000 for security deployments and enhancements. Almost 14 percent more will spend between $50,000 and $100,000, while less than ten percent will allocate more than $1 million.
 
For 25 percent of the companies participating in the survey, their security expenditures will equate to between 7 and 10 percent of their total IT budgets, and 13 percent more will spend in excess of 15 percent of their budgets.
 
The figures from Astaro’s research certainly indicates that the majority of IT and network managers are aware of the need to provide effective network security, and plan on following through on that need.
 
The majority of the 2,800 businesses that participated in the survey have fewer than 100 employees. The hope is that those that are not looking to increase their security spending have up-to-date solutions in place, and are not planning to invest in new communications solutions that might require additional security measures, like wireless access. 
 
But regardless of how well businesses prepare for security risks, new threats and new means of circumventing network security solutions are constantly being developed and discovered, and even the businesses that are increasing their investments in security measures had best be willing to do so again next year.
 
Erik Linask (News - Alert) is Associate Editor of INTERNET TELEPHONY, IMS Magazine, and Unified Communications.  Prior to joining TMC (News - Alert), he was Managing Editor at Global Custodian, an international securities services publication. To see more of his articles, please visit Erik Linask’s columnist page.





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