Backing up the Smart State: E-Security in Queensland's Small and Medium Enterprises
Foth, Marcus (2002) Backing up the Smart State: E-Security in Queensland's Small and Medium Enterprises. Furtwangen University, Germany.
The vulnerability of today's information economy is still not sufficiently realised: The economic structure of Queensland is to a great extent made up of Small and Medium Enterprises (SME). Across all industry sectors, these businesses rapidly approach a similar level of information technology take-up than large enterprises and thus depend to an increasing degree on IT efficiency and security.
The findings of this study, which has been conducted in partnership with the Information Industries Bureau and the Gold Coast City Council, are drawn from an online survey in order to provide an indication of the present e-security situation in SMEs of Queensland's Gold Coast region.
The data shows that the installation and maintenance of e-business technology requires significant time, staff and money resources as well as a constant learning and updating process in order to be on top of the IT development, which is why most SMEs rely to a substantial degree on the expertise and competence of external IT service providers and consultants.
E-Business technology is subject to various vulnerabilities. It is necessary to conduct proper risk analysis to gauge the impact and likelihood of any potential business threats. The risks identified in this process have then to be treated with appropriate backup plans. SMEs seem to be overstrained to handle this burden by themselves without the availability of support programs to reasonable charges, for specialised e-security service providers do not target SMEs. Their solutions are too pricey and are not designed to be applied in the setting of a SME.
The Queensland Government shows a high level of interest in issues surrounding e-business and their usage. However, e-security issues in SMEs are rarely addressed. Many public funding and assistance schemes seem to be unknown, unattractive, or unsuitable to SMEs.
There is an obvious lack of awareness for security issues among SMEs which has to be addressed by developing new and rethinking existing public programs and strategies. To stimulate awareness and appropriate action, it is desirable to provide certain incentives and rewards to enterprises that pass security audits and fulfil Australian security standards. These are essential steps towards the protection against and preparedness for any e-security incidents which both the public and private sector have to take in order to survive something Sam Nunn calls an "electronic Pearl Harbor".
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