Why your company hates social networks – Is it Bad or Good?


Are you facing the same scenario at your workplace?
Here is why…….

It may be the latter-day media darling, but microblogging service Twitter is getting locked out of corporate networks just like Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn before it.

Survey of Reasons for Blocking Social Netwworking sites

Survey of Reasons for Blocking Social Netwworking sites

A survey of 709 system administrators released today by the internet security company Sophos shows that 54% of companies are blocking their employees’ access to these top four social networks, with workplace slacking and the security of company data top of the heap of concerns. More detailed results are in the graph above. The poll also revealed that some 63% of administrators fear people share too much company information on social sites. Half of the polled companies reported their networks had been subject to spamming or phishing attacks via social network sites.

Facebook remains the biggest social network risk to companies, says Sophos chief security expert Graham Cluley, due to its popularity. The site has a user base three times the size of the UK population – at around 200 million users – and where people go, criminals always follow.

But with TV megastar Oprah Winfrey joining the ranks of the tweeters lately, supposedly inspiring a million more to join, Twitter is the latest network to go bigtime. “Twitter is something fairly new and there are some companies without a definite policy on it yet,” says Cluley. But that won’t last long.

Twitter suffered its first major attack earlier this month when the Mikeyy worm spread thousands of spam tweets across the network. Although that worm has been put out of action, Cluley says Twitter remains vulnerable to similar attacks.

The social network is also unpopular with network administrators because the 140 character message limit means users typically send out shortened web addresses using services like TinyURL that hide the site a person is being directed to when they click a link.

Some third party Twitter clients – eg TwitterFox – make it possible to see where such links truly go, as does the Twitter search results page. But on the whole, most users are browsing blind.

There’s a form of ‘client blindness’ too: I think the large number of packages you can use with Twitter can lead to confusion amongst users – especially new ones. When you switch between different clients it’s not always clear whether you’ve directed a message to one person, or the whole world. Indeed, Cluley cites the case of a friend who accidentally sent his birth date to the whole Twitterverse.

Unless Twitter ups its security act, the proportion of firms blocking it isn’t going to change any time soon.

by Paul Marks, technology correspondent


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