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Second Life Presents Real Life Security Risk

Posted by SIM on March 14, 2007

Sophos claims productivity and corporate data at risk as it blocks virtual game
byMatt Chapman
14 March 2007

Online virtual community Second Life affects worker productivity and can cause real life IT security risks, a security vendor claimed today.

Sophos said the growing use of Web 2.0 is redefining how users interact with the internet and creating new avenues for cyber-criminals seeking the easiest point of entry to the network.

“With more than four million registered users worldwide, many of whom regularly visit Second Life on their business PCs, Sophos is warning of the negative impact on staff productivity as well as the increased IT security risks posed by allowing employees to access this virtual world at work,” a statement from Sophos said.

The immense media buzz about the virtual world has already made Second Life a target for hackers trying to gain access to sensitive data to commit identity theft and for financial gain, the security company claimed.

Sophos pointed to an attack last September, which saw hackers steal a Second Life database containing passwords and login information for about 650,000 players.

“If users cannot be trusted to act responsibly on corporate computers, then system administrators will need to enforce policies through technology,” said Carole Theriault, senior security consultant at Sophos.

“IT departments are concerned that workers may be so keen to log on to Second Life and other virtual worlds that there will not only be a productivity hit but also a potential security issue.”

Sophos said that from 22 March, the application control feature in its antivirus software will allow businesses to block Second Life on company networks.

The company said its recent web poll of more than 450 system administrators showed that 90.4 per cent wanted the ability to block the unauthorised use of games at work, with 62 per cent saying this was essential.

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