Risk
7/13/2010
01:10 PM
50%
50%

Social Networking Weakens Enterprise Security

Trend Micro survey finds 24% of employees access social networks from their business computers.

A new study finds that the use of social networking in the workplace has risen from 19% in 2008 to 24% in 2010, with the biggest surges coming in Germany and Britain.

That finding comes from a Trend Micro survey of 1,600 people who regularly use the Internet at work, drawn equally from Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Using social networking tools at work isn't the only quasi-personal-time activity on the rise. Comparing the 2010 survey results with a similar Trend Micro survey conducted in 2008, workers in the United States are now 66% more likely to write personal e-mails at work, 39% more likely to conduct personal banking or online bill-paying, and 29% more likely to watch or listen to streaming audio or video.

But in a good turn for information security, the study also found that from 2008 to 2010, workers in all countries but Japan were also much less likely to download executable files onto their business PC.

At the same time, however, laptop users now appear to be practicing risky information protection habits. According to the Trend Micro study, "for all countries surveyed in 2010, laptop users who can connect to the Internet outside of company network are more likely to share confidential information via instant messenger, webmail, and social media applications than those who are always connected to a company's network."

Perhaps that's because employees' Internet habits apparently differ when they're connected to the corporate LAN at work, versus on the go. For example, laptop users are much more likely than desktop users to visit social networking sites. From 2008 to 2010, social networking usage via laptops increased by 10% in the United States. For desktop users, however, rates stayed about the same.

What should organizations do about safeguarding social networking use, especially in light of laptop users' more risky habits?

In general, security experts recommend that rather than blocking social networking sites outright, organizations create security policies governing their use, and then monitor and enforce those polices to safeguard employees as well as sensitive data.

According to the Trend Micro study, "trying to just prevent users accessing social networks from work could potentially increase the risk to an organization, as users look for ways around computer security, possibly increasing the chance of exposure to security threats."

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Dark Reading Tech Digest, Dec. 19, 2014
Software-defined networking can be a net plus for security. The key: Work with the network team to implement gradually, test as you go, and take the opportunity to overhaul your security strategy.
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2014-8142
Published: 2014-12-20
Use-after-free vulnerability in the process_nested_data function in ext/standard/var_unserializer.re in PHP before 5.4.36, 5.5.x before 5.5.20, and 5.6.x before 5.6.4 allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary code via a crafted unserialize call that leverages improper handling of duplicate keys w...

CVE-2013-4440
Published: 2014-12-19
Password Generator (aka Pwgen) before 2.07 generates weak non-tty passwords, which makes it easier for context-dependent attackers to guess the password via a brute-force attack.

CVE-2013-4442
Published: 2014-12-19
Password Generator (aka Pwgen) before 2.07 uses weak pseudo generated numbers when /dev/urandom is unavailable, which makes it easier for context-dependent attackers to guess the numbers.

CVE-2013-7401
Published: 2014-12-19
The parse_request function in request.c in c-icap 0.2.x allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service (crash) via a URI without a " " or "?" character in an ICAP request, as demonstrated by use of the OPTIONS method.

CVE-2014-2026
Published: 2014-12-19
Cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability in the search functionality in United Planet Intrexx Professional before 5.2 Online Update 0905 and 6.x before 6.0 Online Update 10 allows remote attackers to inject arbitrary web script or HTML via the request parameter.

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Join us Wednesday, Dec. 17 at 1 p.m. Eastern Time to hear what employers are really looking for in a chief information security officer -- it may not be what you think.