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BizReport : Internet : September 20, 2010

Social media use in workplace leading to financial losses

Small businesses that allow employees to use social networks at work are putting themselves at risk of infecting their systems and, worse still, financial loss, according to a new survey in the U.S. by Panda Security.

by Helen Leggatt

Companies that don't control and manage their employees' online activity are at high risk of being infected by malware propagated via social networks, warns Panda Security.

Their survey of 315 small and mid-sized businesses in the U.S. highlighted the dangers posed by the most popular social sites, with Facebook being the number one culprit.

Facebook: 71.6% of malware infections / 73.2% of privacy compromises

YouTube: 41% of malware infections

Twitter: 51% of privacy compromises

According to Panda Security, a third of SMBs have been infected by malware picked up from a social network. Alarmingly, 35% of those who were infected via a social network suffered financial losses, some totaling more than $100,000. Again, the top culprit was Facebook with 62% of those who lost money tracing the loss to the social networking giant.

Despite the risks associated with social media use at work, many companies (62.7%) allow employees to use social media for personal use at work and 69% allow the use of social media on company computers during non-work hours.

Just a quarter of SMBs prohibit the installation of applications at work and only 31.7% disallow games.

On a positive note, Panda found that over half (56.9%) of SMBs now have a social media governance policy in place for employees and another 24.2% plan to formalize a social media policy in the next six months.

"While a relatively high number of SMBs have been infected by malware from social sites, we were pleased to see that the majority of companies already have formal governance and education programs in place," said Sean-Paul Correll, threat researcher at Panda Security.

"These types of policies combined with up to date network security solutions are required to minimize risk and ultimately prevent loss."

Tags: Facebook, Privacy, Security

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