Social Networking Sites Lowering Productivity, Says A New Survey

Facebook, Orkut, Twitter, MySpace & many others have long been part of our lives. However a new survey conducted by Ponemon Institute has revealed a rather disturbing “fact”:  Low employee productivity and reduced information technology (IT) bandwidth are the biggest reasons for the rise in the use of social media at work.

The “Survey” comprising of only IT & IT security practitioners across 12 countries including US, UK, France, Germany, India and Brazil “confirmed” in large majority of 90% that use of social media at work hits the productivity of employees, while 73% said it resulted in lowering the available IT bandwidth.

The reasons supporting these allegations were lack of IT policies, especially for Social Networking Sites. About 39% of organizations surveyed, did not have a policy that informed employees clearly about the acceptable use of social media at workplace and in the ones that did, only 49% respondents said the policy was actually enforced. Though the study revealed most respondents feel social media at work represents a serious security risk, only 29% had the necessary security controls in place to mitigate the risks. Nearly 50% of those surveyed, agreed that viruses and malware infections were increasing as a result of the use of social media.

Consumer Reports (a US based company which publishes product reviews and ratings) had earlier done a similar research & the results of the survey indicated that 42% of the people on Facebook posted their full birth dates, 16% posted their children’s names, 63% posted photos of themselves and 7% revealed their home addresses. While these are not “risky” details, they can be maliciously used to hack into accounts, gain unlawful entry & take a sneak peek into the personal & professional lives of employees & eventually the company where they worked.

However, the scope of the report by Ponemon Institute was quite curtailed to show organizations they needed security technologies that can analyze links as they appear, since the link path is new and doesn’t have a recognizable signature or known payload. That is, “Real Time Content Security” is the need of the hour. Though we all know employees do use Social Networking sites to interact & socialize, banning these sites citing security reasons is never an answer.

There are studies that have proven otherwise. Hence, the only way to address this issue & yet allow access to Social media (till the “real time content security protocol” is in place) is by taking certain precautions like not posting phone number or a full address, being vague when posting information about vacations or business trips (so criminals won’t know when your home will be unoccupied) and of course using strong passwords, mixing upper and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. Users should refrain from providing children’s names, even in photo tags or captions.

All in all, education about online security & not banning access is the real way to keep productivity & morale high. Do you agree?

Author: Alap Naik Desai

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