Sophos has announced that from 22nd March 2007, the application control feature of Sophos Anti-Virus will be extended to give businesses the option to block workers from playing Second Life via company networks. With more than four million registered users worldwide, many of whom regularly visit Second Life on their business PCs, Sophos is warning of the negative impact on staff productivity as well as the increased IT security risks posed by allowing employees to access this virtual world at work.
In a recent Sophos web poll of more than 450 system administrators, 90.4 percent wanted the ability to block the unauthorised use of games at work, with 62 percent indicating this was essential. In addition to placing unnecessary burdens on company bandwidth and wasting valuable business time, the use of web-based games such as Second Life is also opening up a new set of IT security threats. The growing use of Web 2.0 is redefining how users interact with the internet and subsequently creating new avenues for cybercriminals seeking the easiest point of entry to the network.
“Second Life is a hot topic on the internet, with people becoming hooked on their new virtual life and companies opening up virtual branches. IT departments are concerned that workers may be so keen to log on to Second Life and other virtual worlds that there will not only be a productivity hit but also a potential security issue,” said Carole Theriault, senior security consultant at Sophos. “If users cannot be trusted to act responsibly on corporate computers, then system administrators will need to enforce policies through technology. For businesses operating in the real world, users playing online games can seriously impact on performance, drain network resources and put corporate data at risk.”