Social media has been well documented as a productivity drain on businesses, with employees wasting time browsing the sites. However, have you ever considered that it might also be a serious security risk to your business?

Facebook is usually the main offender when it comes to employee time wasting. It is the largest social network, with almost 900 million users – although Twitter is not far behind with 500 million.

Facebook is also the biggest threat to business security of the social networking sites as it is a preferred target for aggressive spam attacks. These spam attacks often take over the user’s Facebook profile and post unsolicited advertisements or graphic and disturbing content designed to shock.

One recent social media spam attack duped users into clicking on a link by playing on their curiosity:

social media spam

The link and video are fake, and clicking on it just reposts it on your timeline creating a snowball effect of annoying spam.

There is a similar risk to clicking links on Twitter. There are many fake accounts set up which will follow people at random, often posing as an attractive woman to ensure maximum chances of getting a follow back. If you do follow back, the account will send you an intriguing direct message, with a link that will allow them to post from your account if you click it.

How serious could this become?

This kind of spam could so easily become a security threat to businesses. There is nothing to stop spammers from manipulating you into browsing malicious websites or downloading malicious content that could take over your computer. If this were to happen in the workplace, the ramifications could be severe.

Kaspersky Labs has carried out a study which claims that malware is 10 times more effectively delivered through social media sites than through email. This is directly related to the nature of social networking sites, in that their users are more open to unexpected approaches from new people, which can be taken advantage of. The ability to easily connect and share with others makes it the perfect place for spam and malware to spread.

What should businesses do to limit this security threat?

The likelihood that your employees are using social media sites at work is high, and therefore measures must be taken to prevent against potential infection or data theft that could cause major upsets to productivity or cost you money in lost revenue or damaged reputation.

Simply restricting access to all social media sites is no longer an option – especially as social networks are often a useful marketing platform for your business.

Robust security software is essential in order to combat these threats. It is essential that this software is able to actively scan and perform deep inspections of all content.