E-business development in Britain is being hampered by sloppy e-security and widespread ignorance among users about security threats.
Research published last week by Network Associates says that UK businesses risk losing out on the opportunities of e-commerce unless they pay more attention to security issues, particularly where users are concerned.
Entitled Healthcheck, the survey by Vanson Bourne questioned 120 IT directors in the retail, pharmaceutical, government and telecoms sectors, about the key issues holding back the growth of e-commerce in Britain.
The results showed that nearly half of those interviewed - 47% - said they believed security issues alone were hampering the development of e-commerce. Only 34% said they were completely satisfied with their anti-virus measures, while 23% of companies had experienced virus attacks which corrupted mission critical data.
Users were highlighted as the weakest link, with 40% saying they were the biggest security risk, while 71% of companies said they believed users were unaware of security threats.
Rob Eatwell, director of business development at Network Associates, said the results pointed to the fact that the overall management of e-security within UK companies was lax.
"Nowadays, with hackers using exactly the same technology as companies moving into e-commerce, companies need to be using encryption software and be willing to adopt personal firewalls on the desktop. It's the adoption of these technologies by e-Britain that is really not happening," he said.
But Azad Ootam, partner at Andersen Consulting, pointed out that even the adoption of encryption technologies wouldn't rule out the human angle.
"Encryption technologies are not going to totally solve this problem because users don't really have a security focus. You can have a heavily encrypted password but if you've left it written on a Post-It note it's useless. The human element will always be the weakest link," he said.