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September 27, 2010

Global business leaders express concern over security of Web 2.0 apps: McAfee

Six out of ten organisations already suffered losses averaging $2m, for a collective loss of more than $1.1bn in 2009

By CBR Staff Writer

Business leaders worldwide see the value of Web 2.0 in supporting productivity and driving new revenue, but remain deeply concerned about security threats associated with deploying the technology, according to a new survey by McAfee, a security technology company.

The survey of over 1,000 global business decision-makers in 17 countries found that half of businesses were concerned about the security of Web 2.0 applications such as social media, micro blogging, collaborative platforms, web mail, and content sharing tools.

The survey revealed that more than six out of ten organisations have already suffered losses averaging $2m, for a collective loss of more than $1.1bn in security related incidents last year, while there was another 60% concerned about loss of reputation as a result of Web 2.0 misuse.

The report highlights that while organisations see the potential value of Web 2.0 tools, decision makers continue to debate whether or how to allow employee usage of the technology in the workplace.

McAfee chief technology officer George Kurtz said that as Web 2.0 technologies gained popularity, organisations were faced with a choice – they can allow them to propagate unchecked, they can block them, or they can embrace them and the benefits they provide while managing them in a secure way.

Brazil, Spain and India led in adoption of Web 2.0 technology for business, while adoption was lowest in Canada, Australia, the US and the UK, according to the report, titled "Web 2.0: A Complex Balancing Act – The First Global Study on Web 2.0 Usage, Risks and Best Practices."

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Three out of four organisations reported that expanded use of Web 2.0 technologies create new revenue streams, while 40% said the tools have boosted productivity and enhanced effective marketing strategies, the report authored by faculty affiliated with the Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security (CERIAS) at Purdue University stated.

Half of respondents named security as their primary concern for Web 2.0, while there was also a third that identified fear of security issues as the main reason Web 2.0 applications are not used more widely in their business.

Companies’ top four perceived threats from employee use of Web 2.0 are malicious software (35%), viruses (15%), overexposure of information (11%) and spyware (10%), the report revealed.

Sixty percent of companies reported that the most significant consequence from inappropriate Web 2.0 and social media usage is loss of reputation, brand, client or confidence, while one third of respondents reported unplanned investments related to "work arounds" related to social media in the workplace.

Fourteen percent of organisations reported litigation or legal threats caused by employees disclosing confidential or sensitive information, with more than 60% of those threats caused by social media disclosures.

Worldwide, 13% of organisations block all Web 2.0 activity while 81% restrict the use of at least one Web 2.0 tool because they are concerned about security.

While almost one third of organisations reported that they do not have any social media policy in place, a quarter of organisations monitor how staff use social media and 66% have introduced social media policies, 71% of which use technology to enforce them.

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