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Loudmouth workers leaking data through social networking sites

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Almost two-thirds (63 per cent) of sys administrators fear that workers share too much personal information through social networking websites, according to a poll by IT security firm Sophos.

Blabby workers are putting corporate infrastructure and data at risk, according to the survey, which also found that a quarter of organisations got hit by spam, phishing or malware attacks via sites such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and MySpace.

These social networking sites have become a favourite locale for cybercrooks bent on stealing identities, distributing malware or sending spam.

"The initial productivity concerns that many organisations harboured when Facebook first shot to popularity are giving way to the realisation that there are more deliberate and malicious risks associated with social networking," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos.

Although one third of organisations still reckon timewasting on social networking sites is the greater issue with sites such as Twitter and Facebook, malware and data leakage were also cited as concerns by many firms.

Attacks on social networking sites over recent months have run the gamut, from scams designed to trick users into sending money to exotic locations under the pretence that a friend is in trouble, to malware disguised as Facebook error messages. Often hackers obtain access to profile using phishing techniques before using these compromised accounts.

The Sophos survey found that one third of respondents has received spam through social networking sites, while one in five (21 per cent) have been the victim of targeted phishing or malware attacks.

Sophos reckons that regulating - rather than proscribing - access to social networking websites is the way to go. "The danger is that by completely denying staff access to their favourite social networking site, organisations will drive their employees to find a way round the ban – and this could potentially open up even greater holes in corporate defences," explained Cluley.

"Let's not also forget that social networking sites can have beneficial business purposes for some firms too, giving them the chance to network with existing customers and potential prospects." ®

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