Businesses at risk as one-fifth of employees use Facebook at work

30 May 2012

Twenty-two per cent of Irish workers use Facebook at work, which puts businesses at risk of malware and virus attacks, results of a Safetica Ireland survey suggest.

The survey, conducted by Amárach Research, revealed that 24pc of Irish computer users spend an hour or more on Facebook every day, and with almost as many saying they always or often check the site during working hours, 11pc occasionally doing so, the danger is that at least some of this social networking is happening on company time.

A reduction is productivity is not the only risk highlighted by these results. The recent Ponemon Institute study on social media risks, conducted among more than 4,000 business IT experts, revealed that 52pc of organisations experienced an increase in virus or malware attacks as a result of social media use in the workplace.

Social media is a prime target for cyber-criminals who circulate enticing links that lead to scams or malware-ridden sites, or push out malicious content through apps and games. If Irish employees accidentally download malicious content while social networking at work, their entire company network is at risk of infiltration.

According to the Ponemon study, 89pc of IT experts believe that social media use in the workplace diminishes employee productivity, 55pc say it leads to the loss of confidential information and 51pc believe it results in an increase in virus or malware infections.

To protect businesses and maintain productivity, the experts at Safetica Ireland recommend that employees’ social media use is monitored and limited when it proves to be a deterrent. Where social media is required to complete tasks, a clear set of guidelines should be implemented, advising against clicking suspicious links, installing apps and disclosing sensitive information.

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.