McAfee: Businesses lose $2m through Web 2.0

Employee use of Facebook, Twitter and other social tools is leading to malware infections, legal challenges and other problems that are costing businesses money, according to the security company
Written by Tom Espiner, Contributor

Web 2.0 sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are costing companies millions in mopping up after security incidents, according a new report.

Six out of 10 companies worldwide have lost an average of $2m (£1.3m) as a result of corporate use of web mail, social media applications and similar software, security company McAfee said in its Web 2.0 report on Monday. Malware infections via social media were the most common cause of financial loss, followed by viruses, information leaks and spyware. About one in seven businesses said had seen legal repercussions from disclosure of sensitive information, which leaked out mainly over social media.

"Web 2.0 technologies are impacting all aspects of the way businesses work," said McAfee chief technology officer George Kurtz in a statement. "As Web 2.0 technologies gain popularity, organisations are faced with a choice — they can allow them to propagate unchecked, they can block them, or they can embrace them."

British employees are spending 50 percent more time on social-networking sites than they did two years ago, security company Clearswift reported in April. It found that managers were easing up on restrictions on use of sites such as Facebook, which are becoming popular among businesses as a way to talk to customers.

In its Web 2.0:  A Complex Balancing Act report, McAfee said that 40 percent of companies found that Web 2.0 tools led to increased productivity and better results from marketing, and 75 percent had bumped up their use of the technology in hopes of bringing in more revenue.

On the other hand, 13 percent of businesses in the report ban all Web 2.0 activity and another 81 percent limit the use of at least one tool due to the security risk, according to McAfee. For example, Facebook is blocked by almost half of all those surveyed. Despite this, almost one in three have not introduced a social media policy in the workplace, the report found.

Large organisations paid higher costs for security breaches brought about by Web 2.0 usage, with an average cost of $4.5m. The collective total was $1.1bn, according to the report.

Web 2.0 take-up by busineses was highest in Brazil, Spain and India, while adoption was lowest in the UK, the US, Australia and Canada. Out of 1,055 organisations worldwide that McAfee surveyed, 618 had suffered losses, a McAfee spokeswoman told ZDNet UK.

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