High-profile data breaches lead to IT clampdown: Survey

More companies blocking employee access to social media
|hrreporter.com|Last Updated: 09/13/2011

Businesses across the globe are clamping down on social media and technology, according to Clearswift, a software security company. More than two-thirds (68 per cent) of companies now monitor employee Internet activity and 56 per cent block access to some sites, found its report WorkLifeWeb 2011.

In 2010, just nine per cent of companies globally blocked employee access to social media sites while, this year, it’s 19 per cent. Blocking is most evident in Germany (23 per cent) and Australia (21 per cent). The only exception is the United States, with 30 per cent of companies actively encouraging employees to use social media tools, found the survey of 1,529 employees and 906 managers in the United Kingdom, U.S., Australia, Germany, the Netherlands and Japan.

“It’s clear that we have seen some significant changes in attitude to social media in the last 12 months. Businesses have reacted to the series of high-profile data leaks and have become increasingly nervous about its usage in the workplace. Rather than embracing new channels of communication, companies have clamped down and become overtly defensive which is consequently stifling potential avenues of growth,” said Andrew Wyatt, chief operating officer of Clearswift.

“However, the research also provides evidence that businesses do recognize the importance of new technologies, which leads me to believe that this is a kneejerk reaction rather than a long-term trend.”

A “socianomic paradox” has emerged, said Clearswift. On the one hand, 80 per cent of managers acknowledged the business benefits social media tools generate, yet 48 per cent identified social media usage as an issue of concern. In the U.S. and Australia, managerial concern is as high as 66 per cent and 54 per cent respectively. Due to a lower level of usage, Japan’s level of concern is 34 per cent.

Paradoxically, 41 per cent of companies globally agree the benefits of social media outweigh the drawbacks. This rises to 48 per cent in the U.K. and 58 per cent in the U.S. Even in Japan, where attitudes towards social media are more skeptical, 28 per cent agree, found the survey.

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