Risk
10/28/2008
02:20 PM
Keith Ferrell
Keith Ferrell
Commentary
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Social Networking Growth Grows Business Risks Too

We've said it before but it bears repeating: social networking can be a valuable business tool. Whether or not you use social networks for work, your employees are using them at work, and the risk of data breaches and other security incidents is growing along with their use.

We've said it before but it bears repeating: social networking can be a valuable business tool. Whether or not you use social networks for work, your employees are using them at work, and the risk of data breaches and other security incidents is growing along with their use.A new survey from FaceTime Communications finds that the more your employees and staff use social networks, the more likely your business is to face security issues.

79 percent of the more than 500 IT professionals (half of them at small and midsized businesses with fewer than 1.000 employees) queried reported that employees used social networks such as Facebook or LinkedIn for business purposes, with 82 percent reporting that employees used social networks for personal purposes at work. (The survey also covered Web-based applications, with equally high or higher employee usages figures found.)

No surprises there, really, but the survey also found that companies whose overall social networking use had increased over the past six months also saw a sharp increase in the number of security incidents requiring IT involvement each month.

Perhaps most telling is the number of employees using social nets (and Web-based applications )for personal reasons even though such use is a direct violation of company policy.

I've written before about the trend toward the sense of digital entitlement many employees feel; Face Time's findings both quantify and reinforce that sense.

Dealing with employee use of company equipment and network access for personal reasons, regardless of company policy, is an issue that continues to grow and will, I think loom large as perhaps the leading security issue of the next few years.

The complete Face Time Report, "The Collaborative Internet: Usage Trends, Employee Attitudes and IT Impacts" is here. The company's fourth annual such survey, links to earlier reports can be found at the end of the report, making for fascinating, sobering comparative reading.

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