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IT Security 3.0: The view of the industry of Web 2.0

May 26, 2009

Launchpad Europe has posted the results of its recent social media survey, conducted at Infosecurity 2009. The survey gauged IT professionals’ attitudes towards social media and compared individual use of social media to corporate use.

Overview of results from Launchpad Europe IT security index April 2009

Of 100 IT professionals surveyed, 61 said they personally used Facebook, Twitter, and/or other social media. A mere 21 out of 100 respondents reported that their companies used social media, either for marketing or communication purposes. Twitter was the winner among companies, with 11 out of 21 claiming to have Twitter accounts; for individuals, Facebook took the top prize, with 51 out of 61 individuals claiming to use it. Half of the companies (10/21) and a third of the individuals (20/61) reportedly update their websites on a daily basis.

The 39 respondents who said they did not use social media were surprisingly vocal in defending their choice. A few sceptics laughed and rolled their eyes at the topic of the survey. Several renounced social media outright, asserting they would “never” use Facebook. Apparently baffled by the company portion of the survey, one respondent asked the interviewer why businesses would bother with social media in the first place. When the interviewer responded that businesses might use social media for marketing purposes, the respondent scoffed, “Yeah, if you want to market your products to children.”

Thomas Hayward said that although he has a Facebook profile, he has become disenchanted with the website, and never uses it.

“If I want to talk to my friends, I call them,” said Hayward. “I don’t want to post on their wall or read their status updates.”

Hayward said he was worried that for many people, Facebook had become a meagre substitute for intimate, uninterrupted human contact.

“No one ever calls me anymore,” said Hayward. “They send Facebook invitations. Everybody seems to know everybody else’s business these days.”

Intriguingly, the respondents who voiced reservations about social media did not seem to want to stop its spread. They simply seemed to want their arguments to be acknowledged. In spite of all the benefits, privileges and possibilities offered by social media, its advent will inevitably lead to the loss of something else. We may lose, for example (as Thomas Hayward pointed out), some of our incentive to speak to one another, to phone instead of instant messaging, to listen and respond to the inflections of another human being’s voice. Social media brings with it the freedom to construct your own public identity, to tailor your online profile and represent yourself exactly as you choose to be represented. But human beings are more than carefully constructed representations; they are living, breathing, physical creatures with complex (and often very confusing) desires. Put simply, Facebook may not be the best medium for the conveyance of a person’s divine essence. As one respondent pointed out, however, children will find a way to use social media whether their parents want them to or not.

“It can’t be stopped,” said Maureen Lamb. “It’s just a matter of training children so they understand the risks.”

Training our children to understand the risks of social media requires us first to understand those risks ourselves.

Mike Burkitt, director of European Business Accelerator Launchpad Europe, said: “Social media cannot be ignored by IT security professionals who know only too well that ignorance is not bliss and it is certainly no defense. IT security professionals must embrace all aspects of the social media phenomenon to fully understand this constantly evolving hotbed for information leakage and social engineering-savvy hackers. My advice is to make yourself and your company fluent in IT security 3.0.”

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