BOSTON -- IT security and control firm Sophos announced that starting on March 22, 2007 the application control feature of Sophos Anti-Virus will be extended to give businesses the option to block workers from playing Second Life, a 3-D virtual world entirely built and owned by its residents, via company networks. With more than four million registered users worldwide, many of whom regularly visit Second Life on their business PCs, Sophos is warning of the negative impact on staff productivity, as well as the increased IT security risks posed by allowing employees to access this virtual world at work.
In a recent Sophos web poll of more than 450 system administrators, 90.4 percent wanted the ability to block the unauthorized use of games at work, with 62 percent indicating this was essential. In addition to placing unnecessary burdens on company bandwidth and wasting valuable business time, the use of web-based games such as Second Life is also opening up a new set of IT security threats. The growing use of web 2.0 is redefining how users interact with the internet and subsequently creating new avenues for cybercriminals seeking the easiest point of entry to the network.
Second Life poses more problems that simply impact employee productivity. It practically provides criminals an open invitation to do as they please with minimal effort, and that is scary, said Ron OBrien, senior security analyst at Boston-based Sophos. Organizations must set certain policies that ensure that employees are contributing to the success of the business, rather than jeopardizing it.