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Report: Social media threatens network security

By Max Burkhalter
April 13, 2011
As companies rely increasingly on the internet, cloud computing and remote connectivity solutions as part of their IT infrastructure, network security has become a high priority for many.

The latest network security solutions offer protection from a wide range of potential threats, ranging from virus and malware to accidental data loss.

According to a recent ITWeb study, however, there may be one important area to which network security experts should pay more attention - social media.

The study polled 304 IT users from a variety of sectors, including finance, telecommunications, business and IT.

It found approximately 45 percent of respondents view online security as a high priority in their organizations. This would seem to suggest a reasonable degree of awareness regarding the importance of online security measures as part of overall network security solutions.

Despite this, the study also found that many respondents utilize social networking sites in ways that may jeopardize company security. Approximately 46.3 percent of respondents indicated they share information on their social media profiles with the public.

Stephan van der Merwe, a head of operations at the company that conducted the study, said the results highlight the importance of security policies for effective protection against cyber threats.

"Not only can viruses be spread across company networks via malicious applications, but there's also a great risk of information being leaked that an employee might consider innocent," he said.

Many companies invest considerable resources in security solutions based on hardware and software. These are central in ensuring data protection. However, many experts note that it is equally crucial to implement thoughtful security policies, in order to protect systems from employee oversights and errors.

According to the study, approximately 62.9 percent of the companies polled currently have an IT policy in place that regulates use of social networks on work computers.

The study found higher levels of awareness regarding other aspects of network security. Approximately 90.2 percent of respondents said they consider security risks before clicking links in social networks or installing new applications.

While some organizations are already concerned about the possibility of social networks undermining their network security solution, others are apparently yet to consider it. According to the study, approximately 50.2 percent of businesses are concerned that social networks may be used to leak information.

The study comes at a time when many organizations are making unprecedented use of external network solutions and data centers. According to a recent Gartner study, the value of the IaaS market is expected to climb from $3.7 billion to $10.5 billion by 2014.


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