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Cath Everett

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Social media useful but still a security risk


While employers acknowledge that Web 2.0 technology can boost staff productivity, enhance marketing strategies and generate new revenue streams, seven out of 10 suffered average losses of $2 million due to related security incidents last year.

As a result, 81% are restricting the use of at least one tool, whether that be social media, micro-blogging, collaboration, web mail or content-sharing, while 13% are blocking all of them completely.
These are the findings of a survey undertaken among more than 1,000 business leaders in 17 countries by the US Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security (Cerias) at Purdue University in Indiana on behalf of security software vendor, McAfee.
Cerias’ founder and executive director Eugene Spafford said: “Web 2.0 and social networking technologies can be used effectively for business. But to reap the benefits, organisations must be proactive in understanding and managing the challenges. That involves putting the right policies in place and deploying the technology that can enforce those policies.”
The study revealed, however, that nearly a third of respondents currently had no social media policy in place, while three quarters failed to monitor how staff used the technology.
This was despite the fact that 50% of those questioned said security was their primary concern when using Web 2.0 offerings, with a third indicating that anxiety in this area was the reason for not deploying such tools more widely. Potential exposure to malicious software was considered the primary threat (35%), followed by viruses (15%), information overexposure (11%) and spyware (10%).
Some three out of five were worried that potential security incidents could lead to damage to the company’s reputation and brand as well as loss of customers and confidence. A further 14% were anxious about litigation if staff disclosed confidential or sensitive information, with three out of five indicating that previous incidents in this area had been caused by disclosures on social networking sites.
As a result, a huge 70% said that they had suffered average losses of $2 million as a result of security incidents from staff using Web 2.0 tools last year, bringing the total cost to global business to $1.1 billion.
Nonetheless, three out of four brands believed that expanding the use of such technology could help to generate new revenue streams, while two out of five said it had already boosted worker productivity and enhanced marketing strategies.
While the study found that Web 2.0 adoption rates were highest in Brazil, Spain and India at more than 90% respectively, it also revealed that they were lowest in the UK, US, Australia and Canada.

One Response

  1. Great Post

    One way to help prevent some of these security risks is high quality training and education. It is important that time is taken to instill the right values as well as the the right skills so that security risks as a result of misuse becomes less of an issue. 


    — Dave Evans, commercial director at accessplanit, specialising in training administration software and learning management system.


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