While enterprises have the resources to create a strong and secure IT infrastructure, small businesses and consumers may not.
Such users need security products that are easy to use, yet offer comprehensive protection, says a Microsoft executive.
“If you have to go to four or five different vendors [to meet these requirements], that causes a lot of complexity,” says Bruce Cowper, senior program manager, security initiative at Microsoft Canada Co. in Mississauga.
Cowper was part of a roundtable, on Monday, on the security needs of small business owners and home PC users.
Much of the discussion focused on the features of Microsoft Windows Live OneCare, a security add-on to the Windows operating system that is designed to serve this market’s unique demands.
OneCare includes anti-virus, anti-spyware, anti-phishing and two-way firewall capabilities.
In addition to its security features, the product also serves as a PC tune-up utility and can be used for tasks such as: hard drive defragmentation, enhancing system operations, and automated backup.
Users get 24/7 IT support via e-mail, phone or chat.
Microsoft is promoting what it calls the “comprehensiveness” of OneCare.
“All the tools are built into one interface,” says Cowper. “Your security centre becomes a one-stop-shop for security questions.”
According to Cowper, to accommodate the fact that home users and small business owners may have more than one computer, a OneCare license will support up to three PCs, he says.
While losing information to security attacks is equally damaging to both small business owners and home users, the data these users strive to protect may be markedly different, says Jon Arnold, principal at Toronto-based J. Arnold & Associates, an industry analyst and marketing consultancy.
A home user will most likely want to protect items of emotional value, such as personal photos and home videos, says Arnold. By contrast, he says, a small business owner’s concern would usually be financial and customer records, and maintaining business continuity, particularly if it’s an e-business.
He said OneCare would be “very suitable for a SOHO-type of operation where there isn’t a lot of computing power and no IT infrastructure.”
In addition, he says, small business owners and home users are generally not up to speed on the nuances of security risks and threats. “They want something simple that works that they don’t have to think about.”
To that end, users can install OneCare and just let it run in the background, says Sumeet Khanna, director of Windows Live Services at MSN Canada.
But besides protecting financial and emotional investment, the customer support is designed to meet all user needs and eliminate the question of where the buck actually stops when it comes to support, says Khanna.
“Consumers are looking for someone to take ownership of the entire experience.”
“Comprehensive” customer support, the automated backup feature and a single unified interface that offers a familiar look and feel are what make the OneCare product different, says Cowper.
Gemma Moore, owner of MG Moore Designs, agrees that OneCare’s single-vendor approach works for her one-woman graphic design company in Kincardine, Ont. “Instead of the two or three programs I would have required, I just needed the one.”
Moore says the fact that the tool is pretty much self-regulating, allows her to invest time in running her business rather than on managing security.
She hasn’t yet found it necessary to contact IT support, however, Moore appreciates its availability especially as she runs a one-person operation.
Other security products work quite well, says Arnold, and the protection offered by these tools – including OneCare – is similar across the board. However, he says, OneCare’s single-vendor approach is pretty hard to beat.