In an age of data leaks, businesses can't afford not to pay attention to social networking activity by employees. A new study from Trend Micro finds the number of people using sites like Facebook and others at work is increasing -- and those doing it via laptop are more likely to share confidential information than others.
In a survey of 1,600 corporate end users in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany and Japan, social networking in the workplace rose from 19 percent in 2008 to 24 percent in 2010. The highest surge of social networking on the corporate network occurred in the United Kingdom and Germany, which witnessed increases of 6 and 10 percent, respectively.
Trend Micro did not say why, but in all countries surveyed, laptop users who can connect to the Internet outside of company network were found to be more likely to share confidential information via instant messenger, Web mail and social media applications than those who are always connected to a company's network. This is particularly true in Germany and Japan, the researchers said.
Twenty-nine percent of laptop users versus 18 percent of desktop users said they frequented social networking sites at work. Around the globe, social networking usage via laptops increased by 8 percent from 2008 to 2010. In the United States it went up 10 percent and in Germany by 14 percent.
"Social networking is an extremely important tool both for personal and professional-relationship building," said David Perry, Trend Micro's global director of education. "And while most companies' concerns around social networking in the office center around the loss of employee productivity, what they may not realize is that many social networking sites are built on interactive technologies that give cyber-criminals endless opportunities to exploit end users, steal personal identities or business data, and corrupt corporate networks with malware. With the right security solutions and social networking guidelines implemented, there is no reason why companies who choose to allow their employees the option of visiting these sites should be overly exposed to these risks."