Analysis: Employers Getting Tougher on Social Networking Use

Sept. 8, 2009
Employers are tightening the reins on which Web sites their staff members can view and increasingly are blocking access to popular social networking sites, according to an analysis conducted by the San Francisco-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) security

"When Web filtering first became an option for companies, we generally saw them block access to typical categories such as pornography, illegal activities and hate and discrimination," said Spencer Parker, director of product management at ScanSafe. "In recent months, employers are obviously wising up to the dangers and negative impact on productivity linked to certain sites and more and more of our customers have chosen to block social networking, online banking and Webmail."

An analysis of more than 1 billion Web requests processed by the company each month indicates a 20% increase in the number of customers blocking social networking sites in the last six months. Currently, 76% of companies are choosing to block social networking, and it is now a more popular category to block than online shopping (52%), weapons (75%), alcohol (64%), sports (51%) and Webmail (58%), according to ScanSafe.

Employers dont take the same stern approach to online banking, with less than half (47%) of ScanSafe customers blocking this category.

ScanSafe found an increase in the number of customers choosing to block these online categories in the last six months:

  • 28% increase in travel.
  • 27% increase in restaurants and bars.
  • 26% increase in sports.
  • 26% increase in online shopping.
  • 19% increase in job searches.
  • 16% increase in Webmail.
"Social networking sites can expose businesses to malware, and if not used for business purposes, can be a drain on productivity and bandwidth," Parker asserted. "Given the option, companies are increasingly taking a sterner approach to the sites that their employees are allowed to access. I imagine before long, social networking will be up there with pornography in terms of categories blocked."

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About the Author

Josh Cable | Former Senior Editor

Former Senior Editor Josh Cable covered innovation issues -- including trends and best practices in R&D, process improvement and product development. He also reported on the best practices of the most successful companies and executives in the world of transportation manufacturing, which encompasses the aerospace, automotive, rail and shipbuilding sectors. 

Josh also led the IndustryWeek Manufacturing Hall of Fame, IW’s annual tribute to the most influential executives and thought leaders in U.S. manufacturing history.

Before joining IndustryWeek, Josh was the editor-in-chief of Penton Media’s Government Product News and Government Procurement. He also was an award-winning beat reporter for several small newspapers in Northeast Ohio.

Josh received his BFA in creative writing from Bowling Green University, and continued his professional development through course-work at Ohio University and Cuyahoga Community College.

A lifelong resident of the Buckeye State, Josh currently lives in the Tremont neighborhood of Cleveland. When the weather cooperates, you’ll find him riding his bike to work, exercising his green thumb in the backyard or playing ultimate Frisbee.  

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