SMBs get Express security

The often-overlooked SMB security market is getting some attention from Internet security provider Websense with the launch of its newest Web security tool.

Websense Express, intended for companies with less than 500 employees, provides Web security and content filtering in the same way that Websense Enterprise provides similar services to large companies. But company executives stress Websense Express should not be considered as Enterprise-lite.

“It’s not a featured-down version, as most people would think when companies release an SMB product,” Fiaaz Walji, country manager at Websense Canada, said. “It’s actually built based on the needs, wants, and pain points of SMB customers.”

Websense said the fact that the software is easy to install, affordable, and can operate on one server as opposed to multiple ones, demonstrates its focus on tailoring the product to SMB needs.

“I think a lot of folks try to dumb down their enterprise version or just try to install a few features of the enterprise version for the SMB, and I don’t think that really addresses what they’re looking for,” Walji said. “You have to really address their market and not create a sort of one-off product saying, ‘By the way, this will fit you as well.’”

James Quin, senior research analyst at Info-Tech, agreed that enterprise-level products are often shoehorned into the SMB space, rather than creating specific solutions targeted directly for the sector.

He said the importance of SMB security is often overlooked by the software companies, creating an underserved market.

“If you look at the SMB level in terms of security issues it’s one that has always, with the exception of very basic tools like anti-malware or firewall, been vastly ignored by almost all aspects of the IT security market,” Quin said. “Here at Info-Tech, our primary client base is SMB, and we invariably get a huge number of calls about their security problems and the tools they need to address them. So, it’s something that the market is desperately lacking.”

David Senf, analyst at IDC Canada, explained that enterprises represent the largest amount of security spend in Canada, which is why vendors have traditionally focused their efforts on those companies.

“However, with a competitively crowded enterprise market, it means harder slogging to earn additional dollars, and the SMB has become more attractive (for the vendors),” Senf said. “Moreover, the SMB in its own right is asking for better security solutions tailored to their needs.”

Websense’s Walji said that Internet scammers are not solely targeted on large enterprises and often gear their efforts toward SMBs because they’re often the most unprepared.

“SMBs are more vulnerable than large enterprises because big companies tend to make sure they have multiple layers of security in place,” Walji said. “I don’t think hackers and crimeware developers really differentiate [between small and large businesses]. It’s changed from fame to fortune now, and if an SMB is thriving and there’s revenue to be had, you’ll see crimeware folks targeting them.”

Budget and time restrictions also make it impossible for SMBs to be as prepared for attacks as their larger counterparts, added Info-Tech’s Quin.

“Large enterprises tend to have sufficient awareness of IT security threats and sufficient personnel that, if there is not a tool directly targeted at solving the problem, they generally have the wherewithal to try and find another way around it,” Quin said.

“SMBs tend to have very tight budgets, tend to have very few committed resources for security management, so if their isn’t a solution or tool out there that allows them to quickly, easily, and efficiently address the problem, it is something that just, in a lot of cases, gets ignored.”

Quin said that Websense’s offering was a step in the right direction for the company and the industry, and hopes to see a stronger focus on SMB security in the near future.

“It is a market where typically, you don’t need a big, powerful solution, you need a simple, easy-to-work solution,” Quin said. “SMBs don’t necessarily need all the bells, whistles, and features at this point, they just need something that’s going to get the job done.”

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