Workplace Social Network, Personal Device Use Gaining - InformationWeek
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6/24/2010
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Workplace Social Network, Personal Device Use Gaining

Enterprises are increasingly allowing employees to access unsupported applications and devices over their networks, in spite of the security risks, according to a Cisco study.

The siren call of Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter are too tempting for many employees to ignore from their workplace, according to a new study conducted for Cisco by InsightExpress.

In the study of 512 IT decision-makers in the United States, Japan, Germany, China, and India, 56% determined that employees used unsupported applications. Of those, 68% were accessing social networking sites, the report found. In addition, 47% were running collaborative sites such as Google Apps and 47% ran peer-to-peer sites, according to the study. One-third were using cloud applications such as Amazon S3, the research showed.

Employees are estimated to spend an average of between 30 and 75 minutes per day on non-business online activities.

"As the lines between personal and business computing increasingly blur, it is becoming clear that employees are going to use social networking and personal devices whether permitted or not," said Fred Kost, director of security solutions at Cisco, in a statement.

Also, 41% of those surveyed found that employees are using unsupported devices, according to the poll. This can have serious repercussions: 40% reported their company had lost data due to the use of unsupported network devices, the study said.

Yet corporations predict they will allow employees to use personal devices on the network within the next year, with 14% stating they are "very likely" and 39% saying they are "likely" to adopt this policy, the poll found. However, 20% are "unlikely" and 21% are "very unlikely," according to the study.

One reason: Overly strict policies can harm a company's ability to attract and retain well-qualified employees under 30, said 71% of those polled.

"Increasingly, unapproved and unmanaged personal devices in the corporate environment are hastening the need for more intelligent security management. These 'solutions' must deal with difficulty of protecting individuals and corporations while providing a positive user experience and corporate data access from any device, anywhere, anytime," said Chris Christiansen, program VP of IDC's security products and services group, in a statement.

Unauthorized users, social networking, and new applications are the leading IT risks to organizations, the survey found. Other threats included unsupported mobile devices, unsupported other devices, collaborative applications, and cloud applications, according to the report.

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