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Less than 30% firms will block social networking sites by ’14: Study

Although various global corporate houses and Indian firms have placed checks to prevent employees from logging into social networking sites, the number of organisations effecting such restriction is rapidly declining, a recent study conducted by Gartner has found.


According to data from the global technology research firm, less than 30% of large organisations will block

employee access to social media sites by 2014 against

50% in 2010.

The number of organisations blocking access to all social media is dropping by around 10% a year, the data further suggested.

In addition to security threats, reduced productivity has often been held responsible for the introduction of restrictions on sites such as Facebook, and LinkedIn during work hours.

However, the increased use of personal devices has made it difficult for organisations to monitor social networking habits of employees. “Even in those organisations that block all access to social media, the blocks tend not to be complete,” said Andrew Walls, research vice-president at Gartner.

“Certain departments and processes, such as marketing, require access to external social media, and employees can circumvent blocks by using devices such as smartphones,” he added.

The Gartner report suggested that while there is an element of risk attached to freeing up social networking usage in office, there is an upside too.

Social media environments include mechanisms to collect, process, share and store a more complete range of identity data than do corporate ‘identity and access management‘ (IAM) systems.

The usage of these sites could enable a more comprehensive view of employees – one that extends beyond the bounds of organisations.

“For IAM managers, this is both a threat and an opportunity. Identity data and social media platforms can expose organisations and users to a wide variety of security threats, but organisations can also use this identity data to improve support for their own IAM practices and the ambitions of business stakeholders,” Gartner said in a statement.



Gartner urges social media to verify employees’ identity

Global IT consultancy Gartner today called up on the social media sites to provide a mechanism for “verifying the identity of employees, job candidates and customers”.

“Organisations should not ignore social media and social identity. We recommend that organisations ascertain how they currently use internal and external social media in both official and unofficial ways, and look for dissonance between identity and access management practices and identity needs, opportunities and risks of social media,” Gartner vice-president for research Andrew Walls said in a report.

“Organisations need to turn their attention to the impact of social media on identity and access management,” Gartner has also recommended organisations to ascertain how their employees use internal and external social media in “both official and unofficial ways,” instead of blocking access to such websites.

The report also expressed the hope that only less than 30 percent of large organisations will block their employees access to social media sites by 2014, compared to 50 percent in 2010.

According to Gartner, collection of identity data by public social media “on a massive scale,” enables improvements in “the production of identity intelligence.”

“This pushes identity and access management programmes to discover user profiles accessed by staff and to maintain capabilities for accessing external services in order to harvest identity data,” he said/

Such identity intelligence can be leveraged for identity and access management of employees, says the report. Gartner has also identified significant impact of social media on identity and access management.

“Employees who participate in online social media continually make judgements about the degree of trust they should place in the platforms and in other participants, and they adjust content, structure and vocabulary to match their risk assessments,” it said.