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Summary:

A new report on social networking traffic patterns in organizations across the globe reveals that while use of social networks at work is way up, it still accounts for only a miniscule percentage of bandwidth. Threats to data security may be the bigger issue.

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It only takes a peek around the desktops of the average office today to see that social network use at work is way up. But by exactly how much is this growth impacting corporate networks? Firewall company Palo Alto Networks analyzes the traffic on its customers’ networks semi-annually to answer questions like this, and this week it released it’s latest findings, summarized in the infographic below.

The headline takeaway is that employees are shifting from being passive observers of social networks while at work to active participants, dramatically increasing their use of these networks (in fact, total social networking traffic more than tripled). But despite BusinessWeek claiming social-mad employees are hogging bandwidth, don’t be too alarmed about the increase in usage. All that posting and game playing only accounts for a total of about one percent of Internet bandwidth, and Palo Alto Networks is stressing that while some people are certainly slacking off, an increasing amount of social networking use is also for legitimate work purposes. File sharing is way up as well but also only accounts for about one percent of total network bandwidth.

“At first glance, the shifts in usage patterns may imply that there is a significant drain on productivity and a strain on the networking infrastructure, possibly jeopardizing other, more business critical, bandwidth sensitive applications. Clearly social networking applications are being used for both business and personal purposes, but the overall impact to the bandwidth infrastructure is small,” says the report. A more serious risk than wasting time or bandwidth may be threats to data security. The report suggests networks are harder to secure than many IT pros imagine.

Thumbnail image courtesy of Flickr user Franco Bouly.

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  1. Björn Gustavsson Thursday, February 9, 2012

    There are good ways to block Social media with web filters and time policy’s so that users only can surf to Social medias during off hours and/or brakes.

    Self i use Untangle to control my users so that they only can use Social medias during lunch and after hours.

  2. Interesting insights. We’ve been discussing the matter of social media in the workplace for some time and have some interesting statistics of our own if you’re interested:

    http://wp.me/sVLxy-banornot

    We’ve pinned your infographic to our board on Pintrest. Hope that’s OK. Thanks

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