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Employees’ Social Media Use on Work Devices Lead to Security Risks: SMBs

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The surge in remote work brought a new wave of security concerns, as many organizations believed that cyber habits of employees could compromise business systems or make corporate data vulnerable to cyberattacks. According to a new survey by the Cyber Readiness Institute, small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are concerned that their employees’ social media activities may bring security risks to organizations.

The survey revealed that 56% of SMBs believe that their employees’ social media use poses a cybersecurity threat to their business. Around 64% stated that more than 50% of their employees have social media applications on devices they use for work.  Despite these concerns, 82% of employers allow their employees to use personal devices to access work email or other data.

While 56% of employees admitted that they have social media applications on their work devices, only 30% said their organization has issued regulations on the use of personal social media accounts on office devices. Nearly, 22% of employees ignore their company’s cybersecurity guidelines on a daily or weekly basis.

Most used Social Media Apps

According to the survey, 50% of employees used Facebook on their work devices. It is the most used social media app on organizational devices, followed by Instagram (39%), Twitter (26%), LinkedIn (22%), Spotify (19%), TikTok (13%), and Snapchat (15%).

 Other Findings include:

  • 67% of business owners allow employees to use social media applications on work devices.
  • 42% of business owners say that more than 75% of their employees have social media applications on devices they use for work.
  • 36% of employers are considering adding new policies regarding social media apps or modifying existing policies as employees have had to work from home.
  • 46% of employers say they are not sure or have no clue what social media apps their employees are using on work devices.

Mitigation Measures

The Cyber Readiness Institute recommended certain measures for organizations to protect their employees, customers, and businesses’ critical information. These include:

  • Provide company-owned devices to all employees.
  • Develop comprehensive policies that address the personal use of work devices.
  • Conduct ongoing employee education initiatives focused on the risks of using social media applications on work devices.

The findings are based on the responses from 400 SMB owners and 1,059 employees working across the U.S.

Kiersten Todt, Managing Director of the Cyber Readiness Institute, said, “It is clear that small business owners are fully aware of the cybersecurity risks associated with mixing personal and work activities on the same device. SMBs now need to issue policies that address these risks. More than 4-in-5 owners allow employees to use personal devices for work and only about half have policies regarding the apps that can or cannot be on devices used. It is a recipe for cyber insecurity.”