The Perks and Pitfalls of Social Networking
Are you one of the 175 million active Facebook users? If not, you likely know someone who is. It may be difficult to fathom that this site, the world's most popular networking community, had a meager beginning as a relatively small network for college students. But, such is the nature of digital online communities - sites and services sprouting up all over the Web that are becoming increasingly accessible and popular.
Twitter. Hi5. MySpace. Bebo. LinkedIn. With the countless social networking communities available today, it's no longer difficult even for new computer users to become social media enthusiasts, sharing information, photos, and personal messages with everyone and anyone they choose.
If you thought social networks were just for teenagers and college-age students, it's just not so. A recent study from Pew Research shows that only eight percent of adult Internet users claimed to use networking sites in 2005, but by 2008 that number had increased to 35 percent.1
Networking sites are being embraced by all kinds of people, all over the globe. According to a study released by Nielsen Online, networking and blogging sites now account for almost 10 percent of time spent online, which is even more than e-mail. According to Nielsen's statistics, one in every 11 minutes spent online globally is on networking sites.2
For many, these sites have become part of their daily routines, logging hours online both at home and at the office. That's right - networking sites are even being adopted in the workplace. New research shows that a majority of organizations do allow workers to have access to Web 2.0 applications at work, a practice which was once viewed as high-risk.3
Still, security issues should not be overlooked. There is evidence to support the argument that security incidents abound in greater numbers when organizations allow employees to use networking sites. According to a survey from FaceTime Communications, organizations which had more users accessing social networking sites than six months previous experienced around 39 security incidents a month, while those with the same or fewer social networking users experienced only around 22 incidents per month.4
Whether used at workplaces or at home, there is no debate that digital communities are facing more and more threats from malware, extortion scams and impersonation ploys. As increasing amounts of computer users spend time in online digital communities, spammers, malware writers, and cyber thieves have streamed into this online sphere.
At the start of March, Facebook users - to use one example - were hit with five different threats in one week alone.5 As the popularity of social networking communities rises, these sites will become increasingly attractive targets for malware. Read our next article, The 5 Essentials for Safe Online Socializing, to learn how you can embrace digital communities while still keeping your privacy and security intact.
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As referenced above, according to a recent survey from the Security Executive Council, a full 86 percent of organizations polled said that they allow employees to use Web 2.0 applications, like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, with a company-issued PC and/or while on the job.
Weigh in - is that craziness or common sense? Write to us and share your opinion. We'll publish a few of your comments in the next issue of Lavasoft News.