Cash and knowledge are barriers to security

The number of people working from home is increasing by around 15 percent a year, but many of them are still failing to address IT security issues and are leaving their computers open to attack.

This year’s Home User conference, held at The Dorchester Hotel in London last week, was the chance for security developers to talk with consumers to ascertain exactly what protection they needed and, indeed, were prepared to pay for.

“Any home user that can connect to a corporate or business network needs a level of security that reflects the value of the data they have access to,” said Lisa Wellberry, Business development director at security firm Ultima Business Solutions Ltd., which hosted the event. “[All] home users will need and want to protect their data.”

The need for some security is quite obvious, but in may cases simple steps such as turning off scripting in windows and vetting emails stops some viruses from creeping into the system.

But if the main problem, as most experts stress, is ignorance of the dangers, industry heads, government bodies and companies need to get together to make the risks apparent – something they have thus far failed to do.

The Department of Trade and Industry said it is not currently running any schemes to address security.

One problem with all security solutions is that they cost consumers money but have the biggest financial impact on big firms. One reason why security is lax among consumers could be less to do with awareness and more to do with finance.

Companies such as Zone Labs provide freeware downloadable firewalls to block hackers and nasty viruses.

“We think it is important that people have access to at least a basic level of protection, such as firewalls, without having to pay,” said a spokesman at Zone Labs.

But Ultima, somewhat unsurprisingly, believes giving away free software is the wrong approach.

“If you give people free software, you are not educating them; they are still not aware of the security threat to their data,” said Ultima’s Wellberry. “It is important users deploy the most suitable security system for them and the only way to do this is for security companies to educate them on the choice available.”

“Above all, education is paramount,” added Niall Moynihan, director for Northern Europe at security technology firm Check Point, which took part in the conference.

Check Point runs user conferences in Ireland, which give consumers the chance to talk to industry experts and gain more information on the importance of protecting PCs.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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