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Employees Addicted To Social Networking Sites

November 4 2008 - More than half of employees (55% in the U.S. and 52% in the U.K.) are using Internet social networks at work according to Internet security company 8e6 Technologies. Even more (72% in the U.S. and 80% in the U.K.) think they should be given full access to social networking sites for personal reasons.

This notion seems to be held across all age groups - especially in the United Kingdom. Their use of the Internet could have serious implications for business systems as the most popular sites viewed at work on both sides of the Atlantic include video- and applications-heavy Web 2.0 destinations, particularly social networking and news sites.

Eric Lundbohm, vice president of marketing at 8e6 Technologies commented:

"As part of our expansion into the U.K. market earlier this year, 8e6 has devoted a significant amount of time and resources to understanding the Internet habits of employees on both sides of the pond. The survey highlights the similarities and differences in both Internet use and workplace culture

"While there are many strategic business reasons why employees in both countries are on social networking, news and streaming media sites, IT must be aware there are also security and regulatory risks associated with employee Internet use. Proper Internet Use Policy education and effective monitoring tools are critical to solving these issues and keeping employees safe, compliant and on-task."

The survey also shows that 63% of respondents were busy dealing with personal e-mails at work - yet another potential productivity drain and security hole, according to 8e6 Technologies. When major news or sporting events are happening, 51% of U.S. employees and 55% of their British counterparts regularly check for online updates during working hours, putting more demands on bandwidth as they watch highlights on streaming media.

Over a half of respondents said that their organizations had an Internet Use Policy stating the rules on Internet use at work, but few said they had received any formal training on the policy. The survey found that only 3% of British respondents and 5% in the U.S. had been disciplined for Internet Use Policy violations. 8e6 Technologies say that organizations should hold regular training on the company's policy so workers are aware of the guidelines.

A massive 85% of U.S. employees and 89% in the U.K. thought that their level of personal Internet use at work was acceptable with 34% of those in the U.S. and 35% in the U.K. spending at least an hour or more each working day on personal Internet use.

8e6 Technologies point out that while organizations have been aware of the productivity consequences of employees surfing the Web at work for some time, there are also potential security concerns, including:

  • Spyware, malicious code and other malware
  • Employees visiting inappropriate sites, leading to potential liability issues.

The survey also found that:

  • U.S. employees were more likely to have used peer-to-peer services to share video or music at work than their British counterparts.
  • Employees in the 18-24 age group were most likely to have used social networking to communicate with colleagues, prospects and clients.
  • Employees aged 40-50 were just as able to use anonymous proxies to get around Web filters as the 18-24 group, but around twice as many 18-24 workers had used them to access blocked sites.

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