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Simon Morris, Research and Development Director at Pentura looks at how the adoption of Web 2.0 makes the job of keeping email and the web free from attacks, malware and spam even more difficult. Yet, simply closing access to unapproved tools can be short sighted as unhappy employees drift to rival businesses with more enlightened policies

Web 2.0 is growing with increasing momentum and businesses seem to be harnessing some of its benefits to bring them closer to their customers and improve overall brand experience. However Web 2.0 as a concept is quite vague and is becoming all encompassing. Firstly it is important for businesses to distinguish between Web 2.0 social networks and Web 2.0 functionality in the workplace; Social Media is very similar to Web 2.0 the only main difference is that social media focuses on people and Web 2.0 focuses on content.

Social Networks are heavily focused at keeping in touch with friends and sharing photos, video and chatting in real time. Using social networks such as Myspace, Twitter and Facebook in the workplace is arguably questionable in terms of how it benefits the business. Evidently organisations need to keep staff happy and not enforce draconian rules upon them; however providing such a distracting media in the workplace and encouraging its use can't be beneficial.

Web 2.0 functionality however can be very beneficial. Using a combination of different mediums (web, audio, and video) to convey a message to new and existing clients can be used to great effect. A number of Pentura's clients have started to use such techniques drawing on the principles of the social networking environments to provide a new canvas for marketing. An example of this was a company that produces cosmetics, which used Web 2.0 functionality to provide a feature rich website for customers to become members of if they were interested in the brand in question. Additionally members could liaise with each other via chat but also enter online competitions and win prizes.

The original question of security is significant in both instances as both use diverse integrated functionality to convey information. Social networking sites' very essence is defined by feature rich functionality and this encompasses web, chat, audio, video, pictures and integrated applications. There are issues of personal data to consider with profile information but the most significant risks exist with the integrated applications as these can be hosted third party and not subject to any security or information assurance controls. In the last 18 months it has been demonstrated that these applications can have malware or functionality issues, which have serious security implications.

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