Small Businesses Ignore IT at Their Peril

July 6, 2006

A survey shows that, among outfits with fewer than 50 employees, 13% have no e-mail and 30% avoid the Internet in general

One in four small companies – those with less than 50 employees – admits to finding it hard to keep up with changing technologies, according to a recent survey commissioned by Lloyds TSB Business. More than one in 10 (13 per cent) still don’t use email and nearly a third (30 per cent) eschew the internet. Nearly one in five said technology has taken the ‘personal touch’ out of working relationships, according to the research.

Only a third of small companies use the web to generate business and only 28 per cent said investment in IT has helped them develop new markets.

But even if they aren’t up to speed on the latest gadgets, two-thirds of small businesses admitted they would not be able to operate without their current level of investment in IT – and nearly half said using IT had helped them cut costs.

Half of the small businesses surveyed had spent less than £5,000 on IT – including computers, software and internet connections – over the past 12 months. Companies in the business services sector were the biggest spenders, with a quarter spending more than £20,000 over the past year, compared to only 17 per cent of manufacturers – and five per cent of retailers.

OpenOffice patches three security holes

July 6, 2006 has warned of three serious security holes which could allow attackers to damage or take control of systems via specially crafted documents. The bugs also affect Sun’s commercial StarOffice suite, based on OpenOffice.

The first bug involves the handling of Java applets embedded in OpenOffice. Malicious Java applets can exploit the flaw to bypass ordinary sandbox security restrictions to gain access to system resources with the privileges of the current user.

A second bug, in the way macros are handled, allows macros to execute Basic code with full system access, and without any user notification, as soon as a malicious document is opened, said. “As a result, the macro may delete/replace files, read/send private data and/or cause additional security issues,” the advisory warned. “Disabling document macros will not prevent this issue.”

Thirdly, a bug in the handling of some XML documents can trigger a buffer overflow, causing the program to crash and allowing attackers to execute malicious code.