Malware attacks up because of social media

Organizations lagging on proper protection: Survey
||Last Updated: 10/18/2011

There is a dangerous gap in corporate social media security in Canada, according to a survey sponsored by content security provider Websense. Seventy per cent of more than 400 IT and IT security respondents said social media in the workplace represents a serious security risk — yet only 31 per cent have the necessary security controls in place to mitigate it.

The research was part of a global survey of more than 4,640 IT and IT security practitioners with an average of 10 years' experience in Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Mexico, Singapore, United Kingdom, and the United States.

"The use of social media in the Canadian workplace is growing. More and more businesses are using blogs, social networks, wikis and other social media outlets to collaborate, gather feedback, and quickly share information with key audiences," said Fiaaz Walji, Websense Canadian country manager. "However, the social web is dynamic and demands a new approach to security beyond just antivirus and firewalls to mitigate the increased risk this technology brings to the workplace. Real-time content analysis, data loss prevention and advanced threat blocking are necessary."

More than one-half (51 per cent) of organizations experienced an increase in malware attacks as a direct result of employee use of social media, found the survey. Technologies considered by respondents to be most important to reducing or mitigating social media threats are anti-virus/anti-malware (79 per cent), endpoint security (79 per cent) and identity and access management (76 per cent).

Even if they have a policy that addresses the acceptable use of social media in the workplace, 37 per cent of respondents said their organizations do not enforce it. Many organizations (36 per cent) do not have a policy that informs employees about the acceptable use of social media in the workplace or are unsure if such a policy exists (25 per cent). Of those, organizations that do have a policy, only 37 per cent of the respondents said the policy is enforced.

The top two negative consequences of an increase in social media use were diminished productivity (96 per cent) and reduced IT bandwidth (68 per cent), which increase costs. More than one-half (53 per cent) of employers worry about exposure to inappropriate content and 46 per cent are concerned about an increase in virus or malware infections, found Websense.

Social media in the workplace is used primarily for non-business purposes. Almost two-thirds (64 per cent) of respondents said employees spend more than 30 minutes each day on non-business social media activities. In contrast, 49 per cent estimated more than 30 minutes is spent on social media for business purposes each day.

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