Clearswift reports a seachange in Web 2.0 business security attitudes

The study – Web 2.0 in the workplace today – is the first in series of three reports planned for 2010, and builds on similar research that Clearswift released in 2007.

Richard Turner, Clearswift's CEO, told Infosecurity that in 2007, just 11% of companies were embracing the business benefits of Web 2.0, yet three years later around two-thirds of firms were adopting the technology.

Services such as Twitter, Facebook, Salesforce.com and Skype, he says, are all being used to great effect, as businesses encourage or allow the use of Web 2.0 services in the workplace.

This surge in use, he says, can be linked to an increased awareness of the benefits of these technologies in the workplace, as well as an uptake in the adoption of cloud-based services.

In its research, Clearswift found that 62% of employees see no reason why they shouldn't be able to access web or social networking content at work.

However, despite the positive steps by businesses, social media adoption in the UK is still somewhat behind other countries. The US and Germany have higher levels of adoption at 74% and 68%, respectively, researchers found.

According to Clearswift, staff are also noticing a transformation in employers attitudes; almost a third (28%) of employees say there is an expectation that they will maintain a social media presence on sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter for work purposes.

This, says the IT security firm, is backed up by 33% of office workers who are happy to use their own private social networks to the advantage of the business, heralding what Clearswift calls a new give-and-take dimension to employment in 2010.

It's not all rosy in the Web 2.0 garden, however, as 25% of employees say they have sent content via email and social networks that they later regretted, perhaps suggesting a lack of corporate diligence when in 'out of work' mode at work.

Turner says that the research shows evidence of a change of attitude and confidence when it comes to Web 2.0 in the workplace – from the 'stop and block' mentality that many businesses adopted in the early 2000s to an appreciation that Web 2.0 is good for business and should be implemented more fully.

"There's still progress to be made, however, and clearly security is an issue that many businesses are not yet comfortable with, but the picture today is a vast improvement on even just three years ago", Turner said.

The Clearswift CEO went on to say that he thinks the credit crunch has a lot to do with the surge of interest in Web 2.0 amongst businesses, as in 2007 firms were riding high, whereas the recent changes in the business environment may have pushed companies into thinking more innovatively and allow their staff to access services like LinkedIn and Twitter.

"There is no business opportunity in stopping stuff. Businesses need to evolve their approach to security and its clear from this new report they are starting to understand the issues that Web 2.0 creates", he said.

"Yes, there are security risks with these new services, but there are also tremendous benefits too. There is no black and white when it comes to business security, but companies are learning to adapt and embrace these new business technologies", he added.

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