Many companies embrace Twitter, Facebook and MySpace because their services present a great way to connect with customers, to promote and spin the corporate image, and to spread the latest company news or product offerings to the public.
These services push out highly focused and targeted messages with greater speed and accuracy than any other marketing medium. The business world would be foolish to ignore such a high level of activity and such a potentially lucrative resource.
Why businesses are concerned
For many businesses, the idea of controlling social networking by simply imposing a blanket block on such sites is impractical.
More subtle and granular controls are required, such as data loss monitoring to watch for specific types of information passing outside company boundaries via non-approved vectors, and tightly configurable usage policies that can limit illegitimate use of certain sites and technologies while granting access to those who require it.
Although productivity continues to be the dominant reason for companies to block social networks, there has been a dramatic rise since April 2009 in the number of businesses that believe malware is their primary security concern with such sites.
Spam, phishing and malware reports up on social networks
It seems these malware concerns are justified, with a 70% rise in the proportion of firms that reported encountering spam and malware attacks via social networks during 2009. More than half of all companies surveyed said they had received spam via social networking sites, and more than a third said they had received malware.
Do you think you will quit Facebook over privacy concerns?
Source: Sophos Poll
Emerging vectors for social networking attacks
With individuals and businesses hooked on online social outlets, cybercriminals have leveraged them as one of the main targets for data theft and malware infiltration. Beyond the common nuisances, such as wasted company time and bandwidth, malware and malicious data theft issues have presented serious problems to social networks and their users.
Spam is now common on social networking sites, and social engineering–trying to trick users to reveal vital data, or persuading people to visit dangerous web links–is on the rise.