BOSTON -- Research conducted by IT security and control firm Sophos has revealed that 50 percent of workers are being blocked from accessing Facebook by their employers who are worried about the website's impact on productivity and security and have therefore put policies or access controls in place to ban its use in the workplace.
In a Sophos poll of 600 workers*, 43 percent revealed that their company was blocking access to Facebook, while an additional 7 percent reported that usage of the social networking website was restricted, and only those with a specific business requirement were allowed to access it.
In contrast, 50 percent of respondents said that their company did not block access to Facebook, with 8 percent specifying that the reason was fear of employee backlash.
A second poll** showed that 66 percent of workers were concerned that their colleagues were sharing too much information on Facebook, which could lead to identity theft and targeted phishing attacks against the company.
According to Sophos, a large number of Facebook profile pages contain users' current employment details, which could be used together with other stolen information by cybercriminals bent on committing corporate fraud or to infiltrate company networks. Last week, Sophos published research showing that 41 percent of Facebook users were prepared to divulge personal information to a complete stranger (a small plastic frog called Freddi Staur), highlighting the extent of the problem facing businesses.
Social networking sites cause a lot of debate among IT administrators, said Ron OBrien, Boston-based Sophos senior security analyst. While these sites can be considered valuable business tools, they can also decrease employee productivity and the amount of usable bandwidth, expose the network and serve as useful tools for identity theft. Its really up to the individual company to decide whether or not social networking sites have more benefits or drawbacks for their specific business goals.