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51% of SMB endpoints infected annually

SMBs aren’t keeping up though: during a typical month, 4.3% of endpoints become infected in those businesses, which translates to an infection rate of 52.1% annually.

“The typical SMB employee uses a number of endpoint devices – a desktop computer, a laptop, a smartphone, a tablet and home computers with various applications on them,” Osterman researchers said. “Each of these endpoints represents a vector through which malware can enter their SMB organization’s network. The Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend of employees using personal mobile devices and laptops for work is accelerating the problem by introducing devices with an even greater likelihood of introducing malware into a company network.”

Mobility is the largest growth area as well: Android usage gained the largest increase in overall SMB endpoint usage in the past year, the study showed, with the number of Google Android-based devices being used in SMBs increasing 7.1% from 2011. The number of Apple iPhones being used in SMBs increased 3.1%, and Apple iPad usage has increased 1.9% from 2011.

Outside of the mobile realm, during the past several years a growing number of organizations reported security violations through their use of web and email. Between 2007 and 2012 there was a 35% growth in web violations and a 12% growth in email violations, suggesting that related security compromises – malware, phishing and related types of attacks – are growing steadily over time.

Osterman noted that there is a greater likelihood of malware-related infections for the many SMBs that update their pattern files/signatures only a few times per day. Gone are the days when single variants of spam, viruses, and worms were created and propagated slowly over the internet, spreading over the course of several weeks. Instead, today’s malware can morph into hundreds or thousands of variants and can propagate in a very short period of time, infecting large numbers of endpoints in as little as a few minutes. To combat this problem, SMBs should update more regularly, as close to real time as possible.

“Malware nowadays is part of a rapidly growing underground economy with cyber criminals employing multiple compromised endpoints and social networking to reach large numbers of targets,” reads the report. “The more popular a mobile device (Android or iOS) or the business tool (DropBox, Skype or FaceBook), the more often it is targeted with delivery mechanisms to steal personal and company data and resources.”

The report also found, alarmingly, that for SMBs, data breaches are becoming so costly that many organizations are at risk of being put out of business through direct financial losses or the high cost of direct or indirect data loss. Last year alone, more than a billion dollars was stolen from small and midsize bank accounts. There are the obvious consequences from data loss, financial loss or the potential interception of sensitive content, but also, IT security providers must spend time and money cleaning customers' endpoints.

Osterman Research found that it takes a mean elapsed time of 72 minutes to remediate a single endpoint. If each IT staff member supports only 33 endpoints, the result is a total IT labor cost of $2,400 per endpoint, or $79,200 per year.

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