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More people getting fired because of online posts

More people getting fired because of online posts



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SALT LAKE CITY -- Some people on social networking sites like Facebook or LinkedIn may be a little too social.

The e-mail security vendor Proofpoint recently released its sixth report on Outbound Email Security and Data Loss Prevention.

"Seventeen percent, nearly one in five large U.S. companies, actually investigated a leak of confidential information to a social networking site," the company's director of market development, Keith Crosley, said.

Crosley says 8 percent of companies have fired an employee for something they posted on social sites in the past 12 months, which is up from 4 percent last year.

Even the micro-blogging site Twitter can be problematic. Crosley says people can post links to sensitive information using URL shorteners.

"You could post something somewhere else, use a URL shortener to point to that, and you could actually leak masses of information that way," he said.

E-mail is a bigger problem.

"It's much easier to get fired over e-mail. In fact, it's almost a third of companies [that] terminated an employee for violating an e-mail policy in the last 12 months," Crosley said.

He says 31 percent of companies fired someone because of an e-mail, and 9 percent of companies have fired someone because of a blog.

The Proofpoint survey also found:

  • E-mail still the No. 1 threat: 43 percent of U.S. companies surveyed had investigated an e-mail-based leak of confidential or proprietary information in the past 12 months. Nearly one-third of them, 31 percent, terminated an employee for violating e-mail policies in the same period (up from 26 percent in 2008).
  • Blogs breaches continue: 18 percent of companies had investigated a data loss event via a blog or message board in the past 12 months. Seventeen percent disciplined an employee for violating blog or message board policies, while nearly 9 percent reported terminating an employee for such a violation (both increases from 2008: 11 percent and 6 percent, respectively).
  • Video exposure: Given the rapid adoption of video and audio media within the enterprise--and the popularity of media sharing sites like YouTube--it's no surprise that more U.S. companies reported investigating exposure events across these channels (18 percent, up from 12 percent in 2008). As a result, 15 percent have disciplined an employee for violating multimedia sharing/posting policies in the past 12 months while 8 percent reported terminating an employee for such a violation.
  • Friends or foes?: Concerning social networks, U.S. companies are also experiencing more exposure incidents involving sites like Facebook and LinkedIn as compared to 2008 (17 percent versus 12 percent). U.S. companies are taking a much more forceful approach with offending employees--8 percent reported terminating an employee for such a violation as compared to only 4 percent in 2008.

E-mail: pnelson@ksl.com

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Paul Nelson

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