Worldwide content security spend by small businesses increased 9.6% in 2014 according to the latest market estimates by Canalys.
The US$2.6 billion market now represents 28% of the total enterprise content security market, compared with 27% in 2013.
During the year, investment grew as overall IT security budgets increased. Small business owners are more aware of the need to include security precautions, in many cases after discovering threats on their networks.
The type and sophistication of threats has grown considerably. Malware, phishing and spyware remain the most common forms of attack, but denial of service attacks are becoming widespread.
Small businesses are also falling victim to supply chain-related attacks, whereby criminals establish an indirect path to confidential data through third parties, which tend to be relatively small businesses.
“While many small businesses have increased their spending, the overall state of protection remains below an effective level,” says senior analyst Nushin Vaiani.
“Some small businesses remain convinced that only those large enterprises they see in highly publicised news articles are the targets of cyber-threats.
“This is a fallacy and if these businesses do not change their attitude soon, they will fall victim to attacks.”
Delaying the introduction of preventative measures will make implementing a scalable security strategy difficult given the growing complexity of IT infrastructure due to the trends of bring-your-own device, virtualisation and cloud.
“Small businesses need to better understand the repercussions in terms of reputational harm and loss of customers and revenue due to successful cyber-attacks and make security a major business priority,” says Vaiani.
“‘IT security vendors have tried to provide small businesses with solutions that are easy to understand and deploy to increase sales,” says, Karissa Chua, research analyst.
“Greater demand for flexible hosted service offerings also encouraged many vendors to develop dedicated SaaS solutions at lower price points,” she says.
Of the remaining vendors, competition grew from the likes of Websense and Sophos, driven by cloud security solutions. The pay-as-you-use, hosted solutions particularly appeal to SMBs trying to reduce costs.
“Competition is intensifying and vendors will try to differentiate by including more functionality in their solutions,” says Chua.
“As content security offerings become more complex, small businesses will look to their trusted channel partners for advice on which solutions will offer the best protection and scalability in the long run.”
Chua says, “Canalys also expects data protection reform to have a positive knock-on effect on IT security spending across all business segments in Europe and Asia Pacific.
“In the US, there will be a major shift to hosted security services, and by the end of the year these will account for about 35% of total content security investment by small businesses.”