Some 50% of workers are being blocked from accessing Facebook by their employers, who are ostensibly worried about the website’s impact on productivity and security, and have therefore put policies or access controls in place to ban its use in the workplace, according to research from Sophos.
In a poll of 600 workers, 43% said their company was blocking access to Facebook, while an additional 7% reported that usage of the social networking website was restricted and only those with a specific business requirement were allowed to access it, Sophos said.
In contrast, 50% of respondents said their company did not block access to Facebook, with 8% specifying the reason as fear of employee backlash.
A second Sophos poll showed that 66% of workers themselves were concerned that their colleagues were sharing too much information on Facebook, which could lead to identity theft and targeted phishing attacks against the company.
According to Sophos, a large number of Facebook profile pages contain users’ current employment details, which could be used together with other stolen information by cybercriminals bent on corporate fraud, or to infiltrate company networks.
Last week, Sophos published research showing that 41% of Facebook users were prepared to divulge personal information to a complete stranger (in the form of a small plastic frog called Freddi Staur).
“Companies are split on the question of Facebook. Some believe it to be a procrastinator’s paradise, which can lead to identity theft if users are careless. Others either view it as a valuable networking tool for workers or are too nervous of employees backlash if the site is suddenly blocked,” said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos.
“Companies need to make their own mind up as to whether they want to allow their users to access websites like Facebook and MySpace during office hours. If workers are allowed to be given access to these sites, then it’s imperative that they are taught best practices to ensure that they are not putting their personal and corporate data at risk. Five minutes spent learning the ins-and-outs of Facebook’s privacy settings, for instance, could save a lot of heartache later.”