Aussie Organizations Optimistic But Concerned about Web. 2.0

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Although many Australian enterprises believe Web 2.0 can help them propel their businesses, many are holding back due to concerns over staff productivity and security, according to a new report published by McAfee, Inc. and Purdue University.

The report, titled “Web 2.0 – A Complex Balancing Act,” examines the use, benefits and perceived risks of Web 2.0 technologies in the Australian workplace. More than 66 percent of Australian organizations report using Web 2.0 solutions for many business functions, the most common being IT and sales/marketing.

The majority of Australian companies understand the value of having clear policies in place, with 70 percent reporting they have adopted a workplace social media policy. Sixty eight percent of organizations that use Web 2.0 report that expanded use of Web 2.0 technologies could create new revenue streams for them. Most organizations that allow employee access to social network sites said they do so because it improves communication (66 percent), enhances customer service and allows them to market more effectively (tied at 48 percent).

When it comes to allowing employees to use social media applications, Australian organizations mainly worry about lack of productivity, followed by security concerns. Almost half of the companies expressed that they are worried staff will accidentally download malware or lose data if they open the business up to these technologies, resulting in lost productivity or worse.

The research shows that security concerns are well founded and the financial implications are significant. Almost half of Australian organizations reported they experienced a security incident, attributed to the use of Web 2.0 applications, the previous year. On average, organizations spent almost $2 million AUD that year due to Internet-related security incidents.

“The potential value of Web 2.0 technologies seems to be well understood by Australian businesses, yet concerns about security and employee productivity hinder decisions to embrace it,” said Mike Sentonas, McAfee’s vice president and chief technology officer, Asia Pacific. “In order for businesses to reap the benefits of Web 2.0, they must understand their security options, and stay informed because the security landscape has really changed.”

Because Web 2.0 applications are vulnerable to exploitation, industry and security experts recommend proactive countermeasures and multilayered security solutions that include application control, next-generation firewalls, endpoint protection, data-loss protection, encryption, authentication, integrity monitoring and whitelisting.

“Successful organizational use of Web 2.0 is a complex balancing act,” Sentonas said, “one that requires analyzing challenges and opportunities, mitigating risks, and combining policy, employee education and technology solutions to ensure security.”

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