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GSS reveals perils of social networking sites

Global Secure Systems, a security consultancy firm claims to have saved thousands of pounds a year by practising what they preach by blocking access to Facebook and other social networking sites on its company network with Internet filtering software.

"Our Internet bandwidth requirements recently came up for review and it was suggested we would need an upgrade, costing a few thousand pounds more a year," said David Hobson, managing director of GSS.

"After analysing the traffic patterns, however, we realised that around 25 per cent of our Web usage was for social networking sites such as Facebook. After locking down this traffic, we found we didn't actually need to upgrade our bandwidth after all," he added.

"The perils of social network Web sites are not just on the financial front, as newswire reports over the weekend reveal that the MySpace Web portal has been hacked, with attackers planting malware on a number of musicians' sites, most notably that of popular singer Alicia Keys," he said.

"Alicia Keys' MySpace pages were booby-trapped last week and, even when the social networking company cleaned up the pages, they were promptly rehacked within a matter of hours," he added.

Hobson said that MySpace hack was a particularly devious one involving malware pointing to servers in China that installed rootkits and DNS changes on the victim's PCs.

"Coupled with our direct experience with social networking sites, these news reports have led us to advise our clients to block access to Facebook, MySpace and other portals of this ilk. They're just trouble all round and have no place in the modern business environment, even during legitimate staff breaks," he said.

Désiré Athow

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.