A quarter of small-to-medium businesses (SMBs) have educated their staff about the risks posed by social networking sites and best practice in avoiding malware.

A survey of 300 business owners and IT managers in SMBs employing between 50 and 250 staff also found that 42 per cent had a policy that encouraged employees to regularly update their security settings. Despite this, more than half of those surveyed said that they had not updated their security settings in the past six months.

Jason Leung, senior product marketing manager for SMB network security at Netgear, that carried out the research, said that while social media tools are fun they can pose security challenges.

“Your friend or colleague shares a link with you, so you make an assumption that it's safe since it has come from somebody you trust. But this simply isn't the case. SMBs need to think about how they can encourage diligence among their employees, since businesses are still getting stung by the kind of threats which have become common place,” he said.

“One of the main issues among SMBs is that online security is a tax upon the business. Business owners and decision makers have a hundred other priorities on their list which are seen as being more worthy of their time, attention and investment; they would rather spend their resource on looking at what will increase sales and improve customer service.

“The fact of the matter is that investment in up-to-date security protection and education of the workforce is an essential step in safeguarding the productivity and IP of the business.”

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