Survey blames social media for increasing malware

Many of us spend and share a considerable chunk of our lives using the social media, and it surely is an integral part of both our professional, as well as personal lives. However, a recent survey concluded that the social media was, besides everything else contributing to malware. According to a survey called, 'Global Survey on Social Media Risks', it has been revealed that corporate social media security isn't at its best. In fact, if figures were to be taken into consideration, then the picture looks something like this - of the 4,000 respondents from over 12 countries, globally over 63 percent confirmed that accessing social media in workplaces increased the security risks, while more than 50 percent stated that using social media increased security threats. Of all, only 29 percent of the respondents confirmed that their workplaces were well-equipped to tackle any security threats posed by social media. 


All in a day's work (Image credit: Getty Images)

All in a day's work (Image credit: Getty Images)




The survey in question was conducted by the Ponemon Institute and was sponsored by WebSense, and is surprisingly the first survey to have gauged what the security practioners thought about the security threats social media posed.


The survey concluded, and put out a couple of key findings in India. These include - 


  • It was largely concluded that social media did help in achieving business objectives, but having said that a whopping 64 percent agreed to the fact that employees using social media at work could prove to be a threat to the organization.


  • As many as 39 percent of the respondents did not have policies at their workplaces, which advised them against the use of social media, or of the restrictions, if they use them. Almost 29 percent of the respondents were not aware if such a policy existed in their workplaces.


  • Social media usage, it has been learnt is categorized in several organizations, where - networking with friends inside the office was the most acceptable way of social media usage; 94 percent of respondents agreed to this, while 73 percent of workplaces okayed networking with friends outside office during work hours. As opposed to this, as much as 54 percent pf the respondents agreed to using social media as a tool to text or e-mail their contacts, while downloading widgets, apps etc. are almost banned, with a mere 4 percent of the respondents agreeing to it. 


  • The survey also noticed that the dependence on social media and productivity at work were indirectly proportional to each other. As many as 60 percent of the respondents were worried about the loss of confidential information or about violating the company norms. While 49 percent of them were worried that malware threat to their systems increased with the increased use of social media at work places. Yet again, as many as 48 percent of the respondents believed that social media was indeed boosting threat to malware, while a sizeable 30 percent were unsure of it. 


  • Interestingly, the survey also figured that social media at work places was being used for both business, as well as non-business purposes. It was found out that almost 47 percent of the respondents spent as much as 30 minutes on social media carrying out non-business activities, while 48 percent stated that they spent 30 minutes on social media carrying out business activities. 


A similar survey was carried by WebSense on a global level, the findings of which are as follows - 


  • Globally, too, 63 percent of the respondents confirmed that the use of social media at workplaces was a threat to the security  of the company, while 29 percent of the respondents stated that their companies had the necessary security systems at place, like secure web gateways. 


  • Globally, too increasing malware threats at workplaces was attributed to increasing social media dependence with as many as 52 percent of the organizations confirming it, while 27 percent of the organizations believe that malware attacks have increased. The highest malware attacks were reported from - United States, United Kingdom, Brazil, Germany, and Singapore  
Chart 2

Social media at work - a complete no-no?



  • Furtheron, among the three listed modes of tackling malware attacks by the respondents, which included, antivirus/antimalware, endpoint security  and secure web gateways, only antivirus/antimalware tools were considered to the most effective - it got the approval of 76 percent of the respondents. 74 percent of the respondents chose end point security and 73 percent chose web gateways. Also, as far as web gateways were considered, only the secured version was considered efftective in dealing with malware coming in through social media access. 


  • Social media usage policies in workplaces came next in the list of parameters. 65 percent of the respondents fell in the category of those who either stated that their companies stated no policy as such, or were plain unsure. Digging deep, it was revealed that the reasons for the non-existence of a proper social media usage policy in companies, were - lack of governance and oversight (44 percent respondents); other security issues are a priority (43 percent respondents), and insufficient resources to monitor policy compliance (41 percent respondents).

Chart 1

How much is too much?



  • Companies also believe that owing to increased social media usage IT bandwidth was reducing. Statistically, it has been revealed that owing to increased social media usage employee productivity dipped by a whopping 89 percent, while IT bandwidth reduced by 77 percent. This, as opposed to 47 percent respondents believed that viewing inappropriate content at work bore a negative consequence.


  • Using social media for non-business purposes seemed to be quite high on a global scale, with as many as 60 percent of the respondents spending as much as 30 minutes of their work hours on social media. The United States, United Kingdom, France, Italy and Mexico have the highest use of social media for non-business reasons, while those in Germany spent a lot of time on social media for business purposes. It was also concluded that issues like local bandwidth costs acted as determiners to gauge the parameters of the social media usage. 


  • Lastly, it was seen that respondents across United Kingdom, Germany, Hong Kong, India, and Mexico were more likely to view social media as a tool to meet their business objectives, while those across Australia, Brazil, and Italy seemed less likely to view social media that way. Also, respondents across Canada, Hong Kong, and Mexico were more likely to see social media as a threat to their organizations, while those in France and Italy were least likely to do so. Organizations in Germany were seen as being the most confident of their capabilities of handling threats coming through from social media. 


How do you perceive social media in your day-to-day activities? Do you think that with necessary security tools in place, using social media to further one's business could prove to be a game changer? Share your views on this in the comments section below. 

Published Date: Oct 13, 2011 03:39 pm | Updated Date: Oct 13, 2011 03:39 pm