Half of work web traffic is porn, gambling, downloads and webmail

New report finds workers too busy on net to work.

Nearly half of web traffic that passes through corporate infrastructure is not related to work activities, according to a new study.

The research carried out by web security firm ScanSafe found that 49 per cent of traffic that employees generated concerned mostly gambling, music downloads, porn and people checking their webmail.

The authors of the report said that of traffic blocked by the company's filtering service, 14 per cent were for advertising and promotion, 12 per cent were to online chat sites and instant messaging applications.

The company also found that blocks to gambling sites were up 22 per cent on last year's figures.

"Beyond the negative impact on productivity, uncontrolled use of the web can have serious and costly consequences for businesses of all sizes including exposure to legal liability, disclosure of confidential information, breaches of compliance requirements and unnecessary bandwidth consumption," said Dan Nadir, product strategy vice president at ScanSafe.

The company reported that 24 new types of malware targeting IM applications surfaced in February, 54 per cent of these threats targeted MSN, compared to 21 per cent that affected Yahoo Messenger and 17 per cent that affected AOL Instant Messenger (AIM). MSN continues to be the most targeted platform for malware.

But the study found that there was a marginal decline in malware in February. Web viruses remained virtually unchanged in February after growing 27 per cent in January. Spyware and adware fell 2 per cent in February compared to a 26 per cent increase the previous month.

"Attackers know that malware may have a better chance of being propagated following the New Year when many users are returning from the holiday and haven't patched their PCs," said Nadir. "This seasonality usually corrects itself and we tend to see a steady increase in malware, particularly spyware, as the year progresses."

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