Thirty-three percent of small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) have been infected with malicious software (malware) spread through social network sites including Facebook, which takes the top spot for social networking-related malware infections, followed by YouTube and Twitter, according to a new survey.
And more than one-third of those infected have paid a hefty price to repair damages, some more than $5,000, according to Panda Security’s First Annual Social Media Risk Index for SMBs, which surveyed 315 U.S. businesses with 1,000 or fewer employees between July and August.
Much of the problem stems from employees misusing company computers for social media use. Twenty-three percent of SMBs said their employees violated company privacy policies on popular social media sites, according to the survey. The survey indicated that the majority of companies have already put formal governance and employee education programs in place.
Businesses say they are too reliant on social media for business purposes to ban it altogether.
“Social media is now ubiquitous among SMBs because of its many obvious business benefits, yet these tools don’t come without serious risks,” said Sean-Paul Correll, threat researcher at Panda Security, in a statement.
Correll said Panda’s survey was designed to uncover the top concerns of SMBs about social media and determine how those concerns correlated to actual malware infection, privacy violations and financial losses.
The top concerns of SMBs around social media include privacy and data loss (74 percent), malware infection (69 percent), loss of employee productivity (60 percent), damage to their reputations (50 percent), and network performance/utilization problems (29 percent), according to the survey.
But despite these concerns SMBs haven’t been deterred from reaping the business benefits of social media, according to the survey. Seventy-eight percent of respondents said they use these tools for research and competitive intelligence, as well as to improve customer service, drive public relations and marketing initiatives and directly generate revenue.
The most popular social media tool among SMBs is Facebook—69 percent of respondents said they have active accounts on Facebook, while 44 percent are on Twitter, 32 percent are on YouTube, and 23 percent have LinkedIn accounts, according to the survey.
However, 71.6 percent of SMBs said they were infected with malware while on Facebook and 73.2 percent said the use of Facebook by employees violated their privacy policies. YouTube came in number two for malware infection (41.2 percent), while Twitter contributed to a significant amount of privacy violations (51 percent). Companies said they lost money because of employee privacy violations on Facebook (62 percent), followed by Twitter (38 percent), YouTube (24 percent) and LinkedIn (11 percent) according to the survey.