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Web 2.0 Application Security A Concern For UK Businesses

Check Point : 03 August, 2010  (Technical Article)
Business and IT professionals in the UK are unconvinced that employees take security risks into account when using web 2.0 applications in the workplace according to research from Check Point and the Ponemon Institute
Check Point Software Technologies and the Ponemon Institute have shared the findings of a multinational survey, Web 2.0 Security in the Workplace. The study reveals that the use of social networking applications has significantly lowered the security posture for up to 82 percent of organisations surveyed. Nearly half of the UK respondents believe that corporate employees rarely, or never, consider security when using Web 2.0 applications.

The Ponemon Institute study surveyed 2,100 IT and security practitioners located in the U.K., U.S., Australia, France and Japan. It showed that a majority of respondents in the UK, US and Australia believe employees should be held most responsible for mitigating the security risks associated with using Web 2.0 applications, ahead of information security and corporate IT staff.

However, 49 percent of UK IT practitioners believe their organisation's employees lack security awareness when using Web 2.0 applications and rarely, or never consider security issues when downloading content, browsing, uploading files, opening links or engaging in social networking at work. This agreed closely with respondents' answers from the U.S. and Australia, at 52 percent and 48 percent respectively. In contrast, less than a quarter of respondents in France (22 percent) and Japan (24 percent) felt their users disregard security issues when browsing.

58 percent of the professionals surveyed in the UK and Australia said that Web 2.0 applications have a significant or very significant impact on the security posture of their companies. In the US and Japan, the figure is even higher, at 80 percent and 82 percent respectively. However, in France, the level of concern over Web 2.0 security in the workplace appears to be much lower, at 45 percent.

"It's clear that IT security administrators are concerned about the impact of Web 2.0 applications in the enterprise, but they also need better tools to understand which applications employees are using for business purposes," said Nick Lowe, head of Western Europe sales at Check Point Software Technologies. "Implementing a flexible solution that factors in specific group or individual needs provides the bridge between users and IT administrators, and ultimately encourages employees to be more cautious when web browsing, taking into account corporate security policies."

IT administrators cited primarily workplace inefficiencies, malware, data loss and viruses as the main threats caused by insecure use of Web 2.0 applications, such as social networking, blogs and wikis. 43 percent of those interviewed in the UK and Australia consider minimizing Web 2.0 security risks as a high or very high priority for their organization, and the vast majority of them feel that the issue should be addressed over the next two to five years. Interestingly, in the US and Japan these figures are even higher. 65 percent of IT administrators in the US, and 68 percent in Japan consider Web 2.0 security is a very high or high priority for their company; and a large majority of respondents feel the risks need to be resolved immediately. However, security administrators in France take a different view, with 63 percent considering Web 2.0 security as a low priority.

Check Point has long protected companies from emerging security threats. Check Point announced a new Application Control Software Blade that enables businesses to secure and manage the use of thousands of Web 2.0 applications in the enterprise and -- with innovative UserCheck technology -- engages employees in the decision-making process, enabling IT administrators to tailor application usage to their specific business needs. The new blade also leverages Check Point AppWiki, the world's largest application classification database, providing security controls for over 50,000 Web 2.0 widgets and more than 4,500 Internet applications.

The Web 2.0 Security in the Workplace study was independently conducted by the Ponemon Institute in April 2010, surveying more than 400 IT security administrators in the UK, and over 2,100 IT security administrators worldwide. The survey sample represents a wide range of organizations varying in size - from small and medium businesses to large enterprises - and across 12 different industries, including financial, industrial, government, retail, healthcare and education.

"The survey data shows that organizations recognize the issues with Web 2.0 use in the enterprise and, fortunately, are making it a high priority. Check Point gives companies a practical approach to application control that enables employees to utilize Web 2.0 tools without compromising the security posture of their business," concluded Nick Lowe.

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