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Do you really ever take the time to read user agreements on websites? Do you even know what they say? Most people don't. The bottom line is that when it comes to security, agreeing to these 'agreements' means that the owners of the Website are not responsible for any malicious content that could be downloaded knowingly or unknowingly from their site. Nor will they be responsible for the havoc such content could wreak on desktop computers or corporate networks.

The proliferation of social networking sites such as Facebook, YouTube, Craigslist and Wikipedia, as well as Web services such as eBay and Gmail, enable self-publishing and high interaction between users through blogs, RSS feeds, podcasts and other technologies. When agreeing to participate on such Websites, users are essentially opening themselves up to a litany of potential trouble. Because these sites attract huge numbers of visitors, they become extremely attractive to cybercriminals, who plant malware within the site. This malware can be propagated by anyone visiting the site without the user's knowledge, even as it's happening. A worm, for example, can shut down corporate networks. Spyware and keystroke loggers can download themselves from these Websites and install on computers automatically, allowing the cybercriminals to steal data. What's more, the very nature of social networking sites encourages users to share information and constantly change content. This opens the door for employees to deliberately or inadvertently share sensitive or company confidential information with others.

The popularity of social networking sites, especially among younger employees, who not only use these sites for personal networking but also business networking and marketing, requires employers to take steps to mitigate the risks of using these websites.

To their credit, most corporate IT managers recognize the threat of email-borne malware and have installed layers of security software to block viruses and other threats at the email gateway, network and desktop. Fewer are protecting their organizations against Web-borne malware that can infiltrate their network via "drive by" downloads—when employees download a file from a website. Perfectly legitimate websites are increasingly infected with botnets, viruses or spyware that can do huge damage if not detected and stopped. Simply by clicking on website that a cybercriminal has put malicious code onto can put your network at risk.


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