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Vulnerabilities / Threats

Security Is Chief Inhibitor To Web 2.0 Implementation, Study Finds

Malware, viruses are key reasons why companies don't use Web 2.0 apps more widely, researchers say

Many enterprises believe Web 2.0 technology could be an aid to business, but they are putting it on the back burner because of concerns about security, according to a study published today.

About half of businesses are concerned about the security of Web 2.0 applications, according to the survey of more than 1,000 business decision-makers in 17 countries. The survey was commissioned by McAfee and authored by faculty affiliated with the Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security (CERIAS) at Purdue University.

About 60 percent of respondents are also concerned about the loss of reputation that might occur through the misuse of Web 2.0 applications, which include such technologies as social media, microblogging, collaborative platforms, Web mail, and content sharing tools.

Brazil, Spain, and India lead in adoption of Web 2.0 technology for business, while adoption was lowest in Canada, Australia, the United States, and the United Kingdom, the report says.

"Web 2.0 technologies are impacting all aspects of the way businesses work," says George Kurtz, CTO for McAfee. "As Web 2.0 technologies gain popularity, organizations are faced with a choice -- they can allow them to propagate unchecked, they can block them, or they can embrace them and the benefits they provide while managing them in a secure way." New revenue streams are the highest driver of Web 2.0 adoption, the study says. Three out of four organizations reported that expanded use of Web 2.0 technologies create new revenue streams, while 40 percent said the tools have boosted productivity and enhanced effective marketing strategies.

Half of the respondents named security as their primary concern for Web 2.0. There was also a third who identified fear of security issues as the main reason Web 2.0 applications are not used more widely in their businesses.

Companies' top four perceived threats from employee use of Web 2.0 are malicious software (35 percent), viruses (15 percent), overexposure of information (11 percent), and spyware (10 percent).

Fourteen percent of organizations reported litigation or legal threats caused by employees disclosing confidential or sensitive information, with more than 60 percent of those threats caused by social media disclosures.

Many businesses block Web 2.0 rather than put policies in place, the study says. Worldwide, 13 percent of organizations block all Web 2.0 activity, while 81 percent restrict the use of at least one Web 2.0 tool because they are concerned about security.

Yet almost one-third of organizations reported that they do not have any social media policy in place, according to the research. A quarter of organizations monitor how staff use social media and 66 percent have introduced social media policies, 71 percent of which use technology to enforce them. 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.

Tim Wilson is Editor in Chief and co-founder of Dark Reading.com, UBM Tech's online community for information security professionals. He is responsible for managing the site, assigning and editing content, and writing breaking news stories. Wilson has been recognized as one ... View Full Bio

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