Should Businesses Block Social Nets?


We've written quite a bit about Web 2.0, looking especially at the impact these technologies are having on corporate IT.

What did we find? Some good and some bad.

Good or bad, it's clear that businesses are adopting these tools at rapid rates. (Check out our new research report on collaboration, which reveals many interesting points on the issue.)

But a new report from security software firm MessageLabs finds that companies are also blocking some access to popular Web 2.0 tools, namely social networks.

The firm points to dramatic rise in blocked Web sites last month due to security threats. According to the report, the number almost quadrupled, with businesses weighing the risks of users clicking on links in social networks and blogs that could lead to malicious Web sites.

This reflects one of the biggest-and barely whispered--problems CIOs and security pros face when evaluating Web 2.0: since these tools are so easily accessible, employees can use them without consulting their IT departments. Blocking access might be the best--and only--option CIOs and security pros.

That's not to say Web 2.0 doesn't have its advantages. But blocking them outright can stifle morale and innovation.

We'll have more to say about this in the future. Help us out: how are you approaching Web 2.0? Do the risks outweigh the rewards, or vice versa?


3 Comments for "Should Businesses Block Social Nets?"

  • Mark August 26, 2013 6:57 pm

    I'll have to just disagree on a paauictlrr point, that of 3G for the iPhone having speeds similar to WiFi. The iPhone 3G has HSDPA, which gives a maximum 14.4Mbps is way off what's now standard wifi speed (54mbps) unless he's talking about 802.1b which is 11Mbps. But then again, I'm hailing from Europe, I don't know how the US market looks like.Even then what I've witnessed, through using an actual 3G phone and living in a country at which 3G and it's iterations have been rolled out over the past 7 years or so, is that mobile phones usually have a 384Kbps connection, some may even go to slightly over 1Mbps. If I were you I really, really wouldn't count on having wifi speed . But mind you, 384Kbps is great for the mobile web and ~1Mbps is also great when you turn on bluetooth on the phone and use an internet tablet to access the real web. Usually 3.6 and 7.2 speeds are achieved by plugging a 3G dongle onto a laptop.As a side note, I remember the ads when 3G was rolled out and on the tellie everything looked snappy, video calls had high resolution and didn't suffer from any lag. It was being pitched as something as fast as your cable connection (remember that this was way back in 2001). Then it hit the market, the market was utterly disappointed with the result. The lesson to learn here is that you shouldn't pitch 3G, whichever version of it, against faster, fixed alternatives but instead pitch it as a big boost against what's currently out there in the mobile market. Vodafone has, in my opinion, been doing this successfully, ATT Mobile should borrow a page from their book.

  • Jon McAdams March 11, 2008 2:02 pm

    "Social networking" is a term loosely applied to many activities, ranging from collaborating on scientific research to online teenage chatting about topics of personal interest. Most organizations have policies, training and communications to inform employees about appropriate "on-the-job" behaviors and activities. These should include guidelines and training about the appropriate use of any new information technology. SaaS offers organizations ways to conduct trials and tests of many types of social networking, including workgroup collaboration, online conferencing, communities of interest, online meetings, etc. Many of these can be implemented on a subscription basis as externally hosted services, avoiding the initial expense of internal infrastructure development. They can be modified, expanded or halted based on results of pilot projects. Technology changes and shapes behavior. When any new technology becomes available in an environment, it can't simply be ignored or blocked. One can only develop ways to use that technology appropriately. How to do this most effectively within a specific organization depends upon that organization's culture and policies, the results of pilot projects, and the bottom-line need for what that new technology can offer. The challenge of rapidly changing technology requires collaboration and planning throughout organizations, and it's another of the less obvious impacts of the technology in breaking down organizational "silos".

  • Laurence P Gebhardt March 11, 2008 11:11 am

    Blocking social networks in some businesses may be appropriate; however, there is a trend toward collaborative work we all know. The case studies in Tapscott & Williams "Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything" gives one perspective. Then think about how creative businesses are actually valued as described in Chris Westland's "Valuing Technology: The New Science of Wealth in the Knowledge Economy." Highly valuable firms such as Microsoft, Google, etc., have tangible assets valued less than 10 percent of market value -- the rest is in the minds and relationships of employees who walk in and out of the business each day. If your business hires people to do mindless drone work then you probably don't want them distracted by social networks; but if your wealth originates in creativity and synergy and complexity then figure out how to use the networks at work with high integrity (not an easy thing to do when we read about Eliot Spitzer in the news today.) Larry Gebhardt Director, Research & Development

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