Small firms, growing security spending

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Smaller U.K. companies are preparing to "drastically" boost IT security spending as they move beyond anti-virus solutions to the deployment of firewall and intrusion-detection software to protect internet gateways.

This finding emerged from the latest study by New York-based AMI-Partners. It predicts that security will be a greater budget priority as U.K. small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) with one to 99 employees spend 10 percent more this year on IT solutions to total $18 billion.

According to the report, the prevalence of threats from viruses and hackers has induced U.K. SMEs to invest in network firewalls and VPNs. As a result, IT security spending has "increased drastically - in the last year alone, the market witnessed 20-percent growth in security solutions spending." Small companies have already tightened access to their systems and core applications and are scrambling to ensure that they don't hinder the free flow of information across the organization while curtailing access.

The growth in IT spending reflects Britain's overall economic growth, which has surpassed the growth of the rest of the European Union over the last five years. During that period, the U.K. averaged 2.6-percent real GDP growth per year, compared to 2-percent a year by the rest of the EU. Technology has significantly leveraged the performance and growth of small businesses in the U.K.

"Having already built their basic IT infrastructure via adoption of PCs, internet access, printers, email and anti-virus solutions, U.K. SMEs have now shifted their focus towards adopting connectivity applications. The growing complexities of business have also induced SMEs to invest in networking and security heavily," the AMI-Partners' report stated.

In 2005, networking spending among SMEs was found by AMI to have increased 28 percent from the previous year. The growth of networking technology has been accentuated by a willingness to add or enhance electronic connectivity with customers and partners for order processing & fulfillment by SB decision makers.

The study also noted that, having built an initial foundation with basic LAN, SMEs are fast adopting wireless LAN technology.

"The flexibility of wire-free connections has attracted the U.K. SMBs to adopt wireless LAN. Many of them are planning to implement in the next year," said Somnath Das, research associate at AMI-Partners.

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