Report: Business Firms Underestimate Risks of Social Media Trends

Businesses around the world appear to be unprepared to handle the threat of security risks from growing technologies such as cloud computing and social networking, according to new research from financial analyst firm Ernst & Young.

Businesses around the world appear to be unprepared to handle the threat of security risks from growing technologies such as cloud computing and social networking, according to new research from financial analyst firm Ernst & Young.

The firm’s 13th annual Global Information Security Survey found that, while sixty percent of respondents perceived an increase risk with the rise of social networking like Twitter and Facebook in the workplace, only 10 percent of companies think that security teams should examine such new and emerging IT trends as a priority.

Moreover, just 33 percent of respondents indicated that social networking is a considerable challenge to effectively delivering information security initiatives.

“We believe this to be an indication that although most companies recognize the fact that there are risks and information security issues related to social media and Web 2.0, only a few have thoroughly examined the issue and developed an approach that will balance the business opportunity with the risk exposure,” the report noted.

The annual survey of nearly 1,600 senior executives in 56 countries found that just 42 percent of businesses plan to spend more over the next year on security awareness and training, and just 34 percent of those plan to include updates on the risks associated with social networking in their trainings.

A near majority of respondents choose to, instead, heed the report’s advice and limit social networking in the office as the easiest way to reduce security risks. 45 percent of respondents indicated that they restrict or prohibit the use of instant messaging or e-mail for sensitive data.

But along with that advice to cut Facebook and Twitter from the office computer, the report also carried a warning, saying it is “doubtful such an approach could be successful,” saying it does not prevent the sharing of sensitive information over personal computers and could serve as a detractor in businesses’ attempts to recruit the best and bright of the new generation of workers.