Social networking sites have taken the world by storm and continue to find their way into the workplace. While these sites can work as an effective promotional tool for any organization, they also pose a series of problems, not only including cyberslacking but also malware attacks.
Alarming results from Google Safe Browsing Diagnostic Tool
Google Safe Browsing Diagnostic Tool showed some alarming results when various popular social networking sites were diagnosed. In July 2010, Facebook.com, was victim to malicious software including 133 scripting exploits, two trojans and one worm. Also, successful infection resulted in an average of 4 new processes on the target machine. Even worse, Twitter.com was also victim to malware including 4724 scripting exploits, 3727 trojans and 216 exploits in July 2010. Clearly, social networking sites are unsafe and organizations need to find an immediate solution to this problem.
What is at stake?
Attackers see social networking sites as an excellent opportunity to spread malware. Having short URLs makes it easy for malware creators to mask links to infected sites and send users to websites they would usually think twice before visiting.
If the corporate network gets infected by any type of malware, it can interrupt a good share of the organization’s productivity and its bottom line. To mention a few of the consequences, sales and orders could be lost, the provision of products and service packages could be interrupted and a number of important processes might not be performed in time. This could also lead to legal repercussions and risks in cases where personal information was saved in the databases and was meant to be kept secured.
What can companies do?
Unfortunately, a number of SMBs (small and medium-size businesses) only recognize lost productivity – when employees spend an amount of time browsing non work-related sites – as these social networking sites’ primary flaw. Because of this, organizations end up either blocking them completely or setting up usage policies without any controls put in place.
Blocking access has proven to be counterproductive as studies, such as the one by ENGAGEMENTdp (2009), have shown that the most valuable brands in the world are experiencing a direct correlation between top financial performance and deep social media engagement. On the other hand, usage policies are essential but not enough to protect the corporate network form malware attacks.
Businesses need to establish a good web filtering and security solution to protect their network from such risks. For instance, GFI WebMonitor offers multiple virus scanners which can scan for hidden downloads and prevent employees from inadvertently downloading malicious software, reducing the average time taken to obtain the latest virus signatures and decreasing the risk to the organization’s site by each new virus.
In this way employees will not feel that their Internet access is restricted while safety measures are still being taken.