Business instant messaging and social network users make catalogue of errors

Business users of instant messaging and social networking sites are making a catalogue of errors when using the technology, according to a survey.

Instant...

Business users of instant messaging and social networking sites are making a catalogue of errors when using the technology, according to a survey.

Instant messaging security firm FaceTime Communications found that 77% of the 200-plus people surveyed could access instant messaging systems at work.

Of these, more than a third admitted to sending an instant message to the wrong person, occasionally to the person they were talking about, and frequently to their superiors.

Sending kisses, checking on the whereabouts of loved ones and derogatory comments about co-workers and superiors have all ended up in a manager's chat window.

One respondent even confessed to sending a joke of an explicit sexual nature accidentally to the financial director.

Just 5% of respondents had sent confidential information to the wrong person. However, one such error resulted in the company's telephony and internet access being used by someone else at the organisation's expense.

Nearly 16% of respondents said that they had clicked on an attachment or a link within an instant message that had turned out to be malware. And 42% of those said their current anti-virus protection did not catch it.

Although only a small minority of the respondents admitted to posting confidential or negative work-related comments on social networking sites, a lack of forward thinking when posting generally was evident in faux-pas anecdotes given during the survey.

One respondent posted to Twitter, "Woohoo! I've finished for the day" at 4pm, rather than his finish time of 5.30pm, only to receive a call from a colleague asking how he was enjoying the sunshine.

Another stated that he was an eager job seeker to his current and rather surprised employer.

While nearly three-quarters of people surveyed could access social networking sites at work, only two-thirds said their employer's policy allowed them to do so, showing that adequate policy enforcement tools were not in place.

"Enabling IM and other types of web 2.0 communication can bring great benefits to companies, but IT departments need to consider the risks involved and make sure that security, policy control and compliance are introduced as standard best practice," said Nick Sears, vice-president EMEA of FaceTime Communications.

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