Social media apps have a reputation as time-consuming distractions*. They have grown into an IT security threat for business organisations, says research from Gigamon.
Close to half (42 percent) of 217 IT professionals surveyed at Infosecurity Europe in June listed social media applications as the most dangerous applications in terms of IT security. TV streaming applications (17 percent) and gaming applications (12 percent) came a distant second and third.
Applications have become a part of every business operation, with the survey revealing that 17 percent of organisations are adding as many ten new applications into enterprise networks every day. However, 14 percent of them do not have policies in place to manage their security.
More than a quarter (26 percent) of organisations surveyed had no idea how many applications are being added to their network each day, while 11 percent were unaware if any measures were put in place to manage their security.
"Today’s organisations are heavily dependent on applications, and employees will often use them to perform key parts of their job. However, it also means that these applications can have access to sensitive corporate data which could put an organisation at risk if it fell into the wrong hands," said Ollie Sheridan, security engineer for EMEA at Gigamon.
A study by Kaspersky Lab and B2B International in over 5,000 businesses around the globe showed that over half of businesses (52 percent) believe they are at risk from within. Their staff, whether intentionally or through their own carelessness or lack of knowledge, are putting the businesses they work for at risk.
"The fear of being put at risk from within can be seen clearly in the fact that for businesses, the top three cybersecurity fears are all related to human factors and employee behaviour," said the Kaspersky study.
Businesses worry most about employees sharing inappropriate data via mobile devices (47 percent), the physical loss of mobile devices exposing their company to risk (46 percent) and the use of inappropriate IT resources by employees (44 percent).
Apart from opening the office networks to external threats, social media apps are putting its individual users under pressure Along with leeching valuable time and attention from employees, social media apps take a toll on the personal traits of the employees.
To cope up with the social-media-induced technostress, they jump from one aspect of the social networking site (SNS) to another instead of switching off or using them less, pointed out a joint research by Lancaster University, the University of Bamberg and Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg.
"Organisations should therefore treat applications as part of their own network and aim to have complete visibility of their functions. Security should always be paramount when new applications are being deployed," Sheridan added.
*A survey of 500 IT workers by Gurucul found that a quarter spent more than two hours a day surfing the web at work, that’s 40 hours a month. Which means a quarter of all workers are wasting three months a year on non-work related surfing.