Half of SMBs Block Access to Facebook, Social Network Sites

Paul Mah
Slide Show

Eight Tips for Creating a Social Media Policy

A list of points that you should consider while crafting your company's social media policy.

A recent survey commissioned by security firm Webroot yielded some interesting findings on the stance of small- and mid-sized businesses towards social networking sites. The survey was conducted on more than 1,000 SMBs from both the United States and United Kingdom, and determined that a significant number of companies either block or forbid access to social networking sites.


Strikingly, the main concern does not appear to be due to loss of productivity-though it is a factor-but has more to do with how unrestricted access to social networking sites results in heightened risks of data leakage or instance of malware infection. Indeed, 53 percent say the proliferation of malware is the top reason they block such sites as Facebook and Twitter.


In a nutshell, the survey found that 39 percent of the SMBs have an Internet usage policy that specifically prohibits employees from visiting Facebook. Another 30 percent do not allow staff to access Twitter, while 27 percent frown on video-sharing sites such as YouTube.


Some other interesting nuggets of data:


  • 12 percent admit that they have already seen sensitive company information appear on a social network as a result of employee activity.
  • 81 percent of respondents have an Internet usage policy in place.
  • 34 percent monitor Internet use as a means of enforcing these Internet usage policy.
  • 21 percent limit employee access to social network sites to specific times of the day, such as during lunch or coffee breaks.


Data Leakage


A friend recently related to me about how a customer service officer forgot to mute the phone when checking with a supervisor about a request to delay the delivery of a purchase. Let's just say that the entire exchange was heard in complete detail, together with key words such as "what a hassle" and "just tell her that the promotion is over by that date." Needless to say, my friend complained after being told that her requests could not be fulfilled.


Beyond the obvious damage that results from leaked credit card or social security numbers, I wonder if any sales deals or business negotiations were compromised as a result of careless tweets along the lines of "just met an annoying client" or "some people are just clueless" sent right after a meeting. Even excessive negativism or complaints about one's supervisor or colleagues could offer precious clues to a competing firm.


Web-based Threats


The inherent trust-based model of social media networks means that users are much more likely to click on shortened or otherwise unidentifiable URLs from someone within their networks. Unfortunately, "friends" from Facebook mean precious little given the propensity of most users to befriend anyone who submits a request. In addition, not all drive-by attacks generate any detectable or obvious clues. On the contrary, users are far more likely to be caught off-guard and click on a link before properly considering if it is wise to do so.


Does your SMB block access to social network sites? If so, please share with us the reasons for doing so, and the measures in place to ensure compliance from employees.

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Jun 27, 2011 10:07 AM juansmith juansmith  says:

There are several software tools to block the access to Facebook. I recommend Social Network Controller to block the access to Facebook (and other social networks) at specific days and times. It is a very useful program for small business and it is a program very easy to use.


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