More businesses blocking access to social media

The number of businesses that have chosen to block access to social networking sites has risen over the past year.

According to research by Clearswift, there has been a 20 per cent increase in the number of companies blocking access to social media sites, with 91 per cent of those doing so mainly concerned about security and data loss.

The figure was obtained from an online survey of 1,529 employees and 906 managers in the UK, US, Australia, Germany, the Netherlands and Japan.

Andrew Wyatt, chief operating officer of Clearswift, told SC magazine that the increase was due to a "knee-jerk reaction" to media reports about data loss.

He said: “Blocking the internet does not stop [employees] using it at home. [There has not been enough] education to get a hold on what is sensible and what is not with social media, and we are learning by mistakes.”

Despite the statistic, managers continue to view social media as critical to business success, with 58 per cent citing web collaboration as a pivotal tool, and 31 per cent of companies planning to increase their investment in social media this year. The survey also revealed that 48 per cent of companies are convinced that the benefits of social media outweigh the drawbacks, although only 12 per cent are using it as a driver of growth.

Wyatt said lack of control of social media has made businesses wary of it. There is widespread concern among managers about social media usage, with 58 per cent expressing security fears, 46 per cent worried about the loss of confidential data via employees and 41 per cent concerned about data loss via external hacking.

The research also found that 57 per cent of managers believe employees are ignorant of security concerns. Wyatt said: “Companies do not do education. People are oblivious – a lot of the time the IT policy is seen only when you join [a company]. Employees do not know about the technology or the associated risks and they just take their own route.”

Looking at the future of social media in business, Wyatt said companies' understanding of it will improve as they will have no choice but to educate staff and put better mechanisms in place.
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