A recent survey by McAfee has found that social networking is the number one threat to information security, according to IT professionals.

Almost 62 per cent of 133 IT and business executives surveyed cited the use of social network sites as a significant threat to their organisation's data security. The second largest threat was the growth of emails and other unstructured data, with 59 per cent stating it was a risk.

The recent growth of ‘bring your own device' (BYOD) within companies was addressed in the McAfee survey, with less than one in five (19 per cent) professionals surveyed stating that their business had a comprehensive BYOD policy for users' personal mobile devices. Almost half of those surveyed (46 per cent) said that personally owned consumer devices represented a significant threat.

In terms of mobile security, the biggest concerns of those surveyed was the practices and behaviour of users, with over half (59 per cent) stating the failure of employees to follow data retention policies as the highest risk and 58 per cent stating lost or stolen devices.

“With employees wanting the same experience in the office as they have at home, it's no surprise that social networking emerges as a serious concern for the IT department,” said Raj Samani, EMEA CTO at McAfee. “As the consumerisation of IT continues to extend its reach into the workplace, it's crucial for IT to take control and set manageable policies for employees to follow.”

McAfee recently launched its ‘Online Safety for Kids' program in the UK designed to raise awareness of the potential risks and share knowledge about how to stay safe online.

“Children are increasingly technology savvy, yet they are not always so savvy when it comes to recognising risk,” Gert-Jan Schenk, president of EMEA at McAfee, said. “The Online Safety for Kids programme allows our employees to use their expertise for the benefit of their local communities, and ultimately ensure that young people understand the risks involved with surfing the web.”