In a research carried out recently, it was found out that 1 out of 6 employees in the United Kingdom feel that social networking websites pose a risk to the security of the company.

The study was carried out by Protiviti, a global risk management consultancy. The objective of the research was to find out if employees felt the need to improve the norms for handling social media.

When Protiviti asked the staff if more should be done regarding the correct usage of social media in the work environment, 27% responded positively and said that stronger measures should be taken to control social media at work. Only 3% responded by saying that lesser focus should be applied on social media norms.

A major generation gap was noted during the study. It was found out that employees form the age group of 18-24 were more active on social networking websites,with almost 74% of the age group using them on a daily basis. Conversely, 21% of employees between the age group of 55-65 used social networks regularly.

According to Jonathan Wyatt, the Director of Protiviti, the difference between using social networks for private and professional use were not differentiated, causing a problem at work.

“On one hand, employees are using social networking tools for managing activities in their private life – but accessing these tools from corporate systems. On the other hand, employees are being asked to carry out specific tasks relating to work via the same social networks”,

said Jonathan Wyatt.

He went on to say that while the access to social networks at work had many benefits, it could also prove to be a major risk to companies which may include security breaches.

Leakage of important information, unintentional uploading of viruses and employees getting involved in fraudulent scams were some of the major security threats according to the research.

“Social media has provided a new environment for criminals seeking an alternative way to commit fraud and other crimes.Employers must set out clear guidelines to help control information supplied, and which, when shared via social networks, will benefit a company’s internal and external image”,

Wyatt said about the research results.

With many companies falling prey to security breaches, this new research is going to be a motivator for them to set new standards for the use of social media at work.