Firms show DLP interest to monitor social networking traffic, survey finds

Organizations are worried about increased use of blogs, wikis and other social media websites, but budget limitations may be holding back investments in DLP.

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Businesses are under increased pressure to stop data leakage as employees increasingly use blogs, wikis, instant messaging and other online communications, according to a recent survey from McAfee Inc. and Forrester Research Inc.

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Forrester surveyed 253 global IT professionals and security decision makers in companies around the world, ranging from 500 to 5000 employees. The survey was commissioned by McAfee's newly acquired Web and email filtering vendor, Secure Computing Corp. The survey, conducted by Forrester Consulting, found that companies are increasingly using Web filtering beyond basic security protection to incorporate functions such as productivity management, traffic quality of service (QoS) management, and single sign-on (SSO).

Still, only 30% of those surveyed by Forrester reported that they use some form of outbound content filtering for Web traffic.

"Many companies have outfitted their email communications with some form of DLP capability Web communication, however, [it] remains a weak link," Forrester said in the report. "Despite the fact many companies in this survey consider data leaks an important business threat, only a small percentage is actually using DLP technologies in outbound Web communication."

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Blocking social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace would result in increased productivity, according to 40% of those surveyed. However, more organizations are using social networking sites to reach out to customers. About 27% said that blocking social networking sites would negatively impact the business.

The survey also found that company size doesn't matter. Employees were using webmail, blogs, RSS feeds, and other social networking and streaming media sites in greater numbers on a daily basis. About 63% of those surveyed said the use of social media sites and bogs would increase in their organization in the next 12 months.

Employees are also increasingly connecting to social networking sites on a smartphone, according to the survey. About 84% of the companies have at least a quarter of their employee population mobile and said employees often access the Web beyond the corporate network for business purposes.

"In the study we conducted last year, 44% of respondents said they had less than 25% mobile population. This year, this number has dwindled to 16%," according to the Forrester report. "In this global economy, traditional business models are fast disappearing; more and more companies are employing mobile workforces."

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