Many businesses block social networking sites

Barracuda Networks announced that an analysis of data contributed by thousands of its Barracuda Web Filter customers found that 50 percent of businesses using Barracuda Web Filters are blocking MySpace or Facebook, two social networking Web sites. While 44 percent of the companies using Barracuda Web Filters currently block MySpace, only 26 percent blocked Facebook. The detailed results are:

Block only MySpace 24.6%
Block only Facebook 6.3%
Block both 19.3%

The company also ran a separate survey of 228 IT security professionals which indicated that 53 percent of businesses currently restrict employee Web surfing via automated Web filtering systems, and almost two-thirds of businesses (65 percent) expect to enforce Web surfing restrictions in 2008, a nearly 23 percent growth from year to year.

The poll gauged the top two reasons businesses had for enforcing employee Web surfing restrictions overall: virus or spyware prevention (70 percent) and employee productivity drain (52 percent). Companies cite bandwidth concerns (36 percent) and liability issues (28 percent) as further justification for restricting employee Internet access.

Further analysis of the Barracuda Web Filter installed base indicates that companies consistently block Web sites that fall under the following categories: hacking, illegal drugs, intolerance and hate, phishing and fraud, offensive content, terrorism, violence, weapons and spam. Yet the analysis found that companies use varying approaches to Web surfing:

  • 21 percent actively monitor employee Internet activity in addition to deploying controls.
  • 6 percent enforce time restrictions on employee use of the Internet.
  • 3 percent supplement company-wide policies with restrictions by department or employee.

The contributed data from thousands of Barracuda Web Filters also showed that virtually all customers block spyware traffic and spyware downloads. The top spyware sites blocked include Adware sites such as MySearch, FunWebProducts, and Hotbar, which track search activity and redirect search results or infuse searches with unauthorised pop-up ads, tying up network bandwidth. Backdoor.Ranky.X, a site which infiltrates Internet Relay Chat (IRC) channels, takes over infected machines and converts them into covert proxies for spam activity, was also on the list of top blocked spyware sites.