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Staff use of Web 2.0 is unseen threat, survey says

Companies underestimating leak risk

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Over one third of businesses do not monitor their employees' internet use, according to a survey carried out by an information security firm. The research found that companies are underestimating the data risk posed by so-called Web 2.0 sites.

Websites based on user-generated content, blogging, or participation are frequently visited by office workers, but content security firm Clearswift's survey claims that firms are failing to see the risks of data leak posed by those sites.

It found that 14.6 per cent of the 939 business surveyed are not aware of social media and have no policy on it, while 19 per cent of companies do not have a policy governing appropriate use of the internet by employees.

The research found that 35 per cent of companies do not monitor employees' use of the internet, so would have no idea whether or not they were using social media sites and would not be able to trace the source of any leak on those sites.

"It is clear that organisations don't equate employee use of social media sites with potential security breaches, which is a worrying sign," said Clearswift chief executive Jon Lee. "Recognising the threat is the first and foremost priority, and it is clear that education measures still have some way to go.

"Research has shown that employees, particularly younger employees, are using these Web 2.0 technologies heavily at work, and the risk for potential loss of confidential information via these sites is very real. Organisations need to reassess their security policies and precautions in light of the growing popularity and business use of Web 2.0 technologies," he said.

Earlier research by the company unveiled the scale of the use of collaborative websites by workers. A quarter of young office workers in the UK spent more than three hours a week on sites such as YouTube, MySpace or Bebo. It found that 42 per cent of those people discussed work on those sites.

The survey showed that companies were worried about loss of confidential data, rating it the second most important security issue behind viruses, but were complacent about social media's role in that loss. Leaks from blogs, forums and instant messaging chats were all put right at the bottom of the list of threats ranked by importance.

A second survey has claimed that a quarter of organisations do not police wireless internet security. The survey, conducted among 320 companies by conference organisers Infosecurity Europe, found that even though workers are increasingly using wireless networks in and out of the office, 26 per cent of companies do not enforce a wireless security policy.

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