Anti-virus, spam, spyware, adware specialists McAfee has unveiled the findings of a global report, looking at business perceptions of social media use by employees. The report examines the drivers for Web 2.0 and social networking use in business, and assesses their benefits and risks.

McAfee's study of 1,000 organisations highlighted major concerns regarding the security risks inherent in letting employees have easy access to popular sites and services such as Facebook and Twitter.

The study, which quizzed global business decision-makers in 17 countries found that 50 per cent of businesses were concerned about the security of Web 2.0 applications including social media, micro blogging, collaborative platforms, web mail, and content sharing tools.

Another 60 per cent expressed concerns about loss of reputation as a result of misuse, while six out of ten organisations – some 70 per cent – admitted they had already suffered losses averaging $2 million (£1.3 million), for a staggering collective loss of more than $1.1 billion in security related incidents last year.  

Brazil, Spain and India led in adoption of Web 2.0 technology for business according to McAfee, while adoption was lowest in Canada, Australia, US and UK.

"Web 2.0 technologies are impacting all aspects of the way businesses work," said George Kurtz, chief technology officer for McAfee.  

"As Web 2.0 technologies gain popularity, organizations are faced with a choice - they can allow them to propagate unchecked, they can block them, or they can embrace them and the benefits they provide while managing them in a secure way."

The report, 'Web 2.0: A Complex Balancing Act – The First Global Study on Web 2.0 Usage, Risks and Best Practices' was commissioned by McAfee and authored by faculty affiliated with the Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security (CERIAS) at Purdue University.

Overall, the research highlights that while organisations see the potential value of Web 2.0 tools, decision makers continue to debate whether or how to allow employee usage of the technology in the workplace.

The report is available for download at

McAfee will also be hosting a Webcast on 6 October 2010 at 2pm EDT, titled 'Bridging the Web 2.0 Security Gap,' with Chenxi Wang, Ph.D., Forrester Research.

The Webcast will cover McAfee’s recently commissioned Forrester Research Web 2.0 security trends study.

It will aim to help educate enterprise users about protecting their business while successfully using Web 2.0 technologies.  To sign up to the Forrester Research Webcast click here.