Vulnerabilities / Threats
10/27/2008
05:49 PM
Connect Directly
Google+
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Internet Apps & Social Networking Office Boom Linked to Breaches

New study finds that nearly all organizations have employees using Internet apps at work, and 60% use social networking at the office

One of IT's worst nightmares may be coming true: according to a new survey, organizations where more employees are using social networking at work now than six months ago have experienced more security incidents.

Nearly 60 percent of all IT managers surveyed by FaceTime Communications reported that their users social-network at the office. Of those organizations, the ones where more users were using social networking today than six months ago experienced an average of 39 security incidents a month, requiring 24 hours worth of remediation. Those with about the same or fewer users of social networking at work experienced around 22 or 23 such incidents a month, with about half the remediation time.

The overall survey looked at the use of Internet-based applications like Facebook, LinkedIn, instant messaging, and voice-over-IP. "Employees are bringing these applications in… and this is a challenge for IT people because it's at odds with what they are comfortable with," says Frank Cabri, vice president of marketing and product management at FaceTime Communications. "They are trying to enable their employees to get the job done, but they have to be sure their network is up and available, and that information is not leaking out through those channels they can't monitor."

Facetime's survey found that nearly 100 percent of employees at the surveyed organizations use at least one consumer application such as Facebook, YouTube, Skype, or instant messaging (that's up from 85 percent last year), and around 80 percent of employees use social networking sites for their jobs as well as for personal use. On average, an organization has 9.3 of these types of Internet applications in use by its employees.

The report surveyed over 500 employees and IT managers, over half of which work at organizations with over 1,000 employees.

Among the most surprising finds in the report, according to Cabri, was that one third of the employees surveyed said they had the right to run these applications on their desktop, even if it was a violation of IT policy. "If applications are attractive and they allow the benefits for work or both, people are willing to go against corporate IT policy," he says.

Another red flag was when it came to data leaks at these organizations: four in 10 IT managers said they had experienced security incidents that were purposeful, while 27 percent had seen "unintentional release of corporate information" occur.

"37 percent of IT managers reported an incident of [someone] knowingly sending out confidential information that was a violation" of policy, Cabri says. "That seems to be a big number to deal with."

And those leaks came via social networking, IM, and peer-to-peer communications, he says.

Nearly one fourth of the organizations had been hit by at least one Web-borne attack costing the business an average of $50,000 per month, according to the report. Large organizations found this cost them as much as $125,000 a month. The main attacks were viruses, Trojans and worms (59 percent), and spyware (57 percent).

The IT managers in the survey said they face an average of 34 security incidents per month, and bigger companies (over 5,000 employees) experience close to 70 a month.

Facetime's Cabri says the answer is IT and the user community finding a middle ground. "I would never advise a company to give access to each and every [Facebook app] to its users," for instance, he says. First, determine which Internet apps users are deploying and how they are using them, he says.

"The key is putting controls in place," Cabri says. You could allow Facebook, for instance, but only with business applications within the group and block chats, he says. "And you should be measuring and reporting on what they are doing" with it, he says.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message

Kelly Jackson Higgins is Executive Editor at DarkReading.com. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
Security Operations and IT Operations: Finding the Path to Collaboration
A wide gulf has emerged between SOC and NOC teams that's keeping both of them from assuring the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of IT systems. Here's how experts think it should be bridged.
Flash Poll
New Best Practices for Secure App Development
New Best Practices for Secure App Development
The transition from DevOps to SecDevOps is combining with the move toward cloud computing to create new challenges - and new opportunities - for the information security team. Download this report, to learn about the new best practices for secure application development.
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2017-0290
Published: 2017-05-09
NScript in mpengine in Microsoft Malware Protection Engine with Engine Version before 1.1.13704.0, as used in Windows Defender and other products, allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary code or cause a denial of service (type confusion and application crash) via crafted JavaScript code within ...

CVE-2016-10369
Published: 2017-05-08
unixsocket.c in lxterminal through 0.3.0 insecurely uses /tmp for a socket file, allowing a local user to cause a denial of service (preventing terminal launch), or possibly have other impact (bypassing terminal access control).

CVE-2016-8202
Published: 2017-05-08
A privilege escalation vulnerability in Brocade Fibre Channel SAN products running Brocade Fabric OS (FOS) releases earlier than v7.4.1d and v8.0.1b could allow an authenticated attacker to elevate the privileges of user accounts accessing the system via command line interface. With affected version...

CVE-2016-8209
Published: 2017-05-08
Improper checks for unusual or exceptional conditions in Brocade NetIron 05.8.00 and later releases up to and including 06.1.00, when the Management Module is continuously scanned on port 22, may allow attackers to cause a denial of service (crash and reload) of the management module.

CVE-2017-0890
Published: 2017-05-08
Nextcloud Server before 11.0.3 is vulnerable to an inadequate escaping leading to a XSS vulnerability in the search module. To be exploitable a user has to write or paste malicious content into the search dialogue.

Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
In past years, security researchers have discovered ways to hack cars, medical devices, automated teller machines, and many other targets. Dark Reading Executive Editor Kelly Jackson Higgins hosts researcher Samy Kamkar and Levi Gundert, vice president of threat intelligence at Recorded Future, to discuss some of 2016's most unusual and creative hacks by white hats, and what these new vulnerabilities might mean for the coming year.