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News

Social networking remains common in business despite risks.

McAfee : 07 November, 2007  (Technical Article)
McAfee research shows widespread use of social networking tools within the workplace even though they contravene many standard IT management good practices.
McAfee has released findings that only one in five businesses in Europe (21%) are blocking access to social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace in spite of the fact that IT professionals are well aware they present new security dangers. Social networking sites sit alongside other technologies that IT professionals perceive as threats but do not or cannot limit access to; such as instant messenger and web-based email, suggesting IT departments are leaving themselves open to security risks due to more important business priorities.

"IT decision makers often have the difficult job of making a choice between what they know are serious security threats and other business priorities such as productivity and employee morale. This is where we see usage policies coming into play as a way to bridge the gap between what IT departments would like to block in an ideal world and what is functionally realistic," said Toralv Dirro, Security Strategist for McAfee Avert Labs.

Music downloads and Internet dating sites are the only sites featured on both the blocked and threat lists. The most commonly blocked technologies are Internet dating (36%), music downloads (36%), online music communities (24%), video content (24%) and online radio (23%). However, the technologies perceived to be most dangerous are music downloads (58%), Internet dating (56%), instant messenger (53%), social networking sites (48%) and web-based email (46%). These findings are indicative of the ongoing balancing act that IT decision makers face on a daily basis.

The attitudes towards blocking access to various technologies differ across Europe. Findings revealed Sweden is the most lenient with 57% of IT professionals not limiting access for their employees. The UK came out as the strictest in Europe with just 28% not locking access.

The driving reason for most IT professionals to be concerned about these technologies is that they believe them to spread viruses (57%) and encourage spam (54%). Ultimately, those polled believe this could have a significant financial risk, citing downtime and fraud as their top concerns should IT security be breached.

McAfee advises IT professionals to assess the dangers and employ usage policies combined with security software to limit the business' exposure to threats whilst still delivering technologies that meet the business' productivity needs.
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