Network Breaches, Social Media, Smartphones Worry Administrators: Survey

Network breaches as a result of employees using social media and mobile phone security keep network administrators up at night.

Security breaches and network security threats posed by social media and smartphone use at work are keeping network administrators up at night, according to a recent survey.

In the latest What Keeps Network Administrators Up at Night survey from Amplitude Research, 41 percent of respondents named security breaches to their network and another 40 percent said they are worried about what their end users are doing.

Interestingly, 30 percent worry about the organization's recovery plan, or the lack of a plan. About 26 percent worry about the next virus or worm outbreak, and 14 percent are concerned about a security breach to the organization's Website.

About 42 percent of the respondents are "moderately concerned" to "extremely concerned" about the security threats associated with employees using social media in the workplace. Social media was defined in the survey as social networking sites, blogs, online video services, micro-sharing and widgets.

Researchers found a strong correlation between the respondents who said they are concerned about a network security breach and those who are concerned about employees using social media on the corporate network.

When asked to name their biggest concerns about social media, the respondents named the possibility of downloading viruses, potential data leaks and intrusion risks as being high on the list. Other concerns included being infected by Trojans or other malware, users not being careful and risks to private data. The findings were similar to the 2010 report.

Approximately 36 percent of network administrators said employees have unlimited access to social media. In contrast, 48 percent said employees have limited access, and 16 percent claimed no access to social media. Around 60 percent of administrators said their organizations have a formal policy about employee access to social media at work.

"As most organizations allow at least limited access to social media via the company network, many network administrators are left worrying about the increased risks of viruses, data leaks and intrusions that can result from employee use of social media," the report said.

About the same number of administrators, or 42 percent, considered managing employee smartphones "very important" or "extremely important" compared with other security threats, according to the 2011 report, released May 3.

Only 49 percent of network administrators in the survey are satisfied with the way mobile security is handled within their organization. The level of satisfaction dropped from 57 percent in 2010.

Cloud computing adoption rates increased in 2011, with 22 percent claiming their organization have moved some business function to the cloud and 51 percent are planning to. Among those who have not yet adopted cloud computing, 15 percent of the respondents said cloud computing is "very secure" and 56 percent said "somewhat secure."

"Significant gains in future adoption may require convincing network administrators that cloud computing can be -very secure,'" according to the report.

The 2011 online study, commissioned by VanDyke Software and conducted by Amplitude Research, collected responses from 364 network or systems administrators in early April. In the eight years Amplitude Research has been conducting this survey, this year's report had the largest pool of respondents. The majority of the respondents worked at privately held companies, with 28 percent in publicly traded firms and a handful of administrators from nonprofit, government and educational institutions.