Social Networking Security in the Workplace Part One: Understanding the Problem

At any given moment nowadays, on-the-clock staff are checking and updating their social media statuses, reading feeds and networking on business media sites. Moments will often stretch to minutes: A recent study by the Ponemon Institute found that 60% of social media users spend a minimum of half-hour daily on these sites when at work.

Social networking has become a hugely popular channel of communication for many, and while firms at first resisted on-the-job use of social media, many currently embrace it as good for business.

An increasing range of firms large and small currently perceive that specialized enterprise social media tools will spark enhanced collaboration among co-workers, increase worker productivity considerably and improve communications.

When it involves public social networking sites, these might help a company attract customers and staff, improve client service and manage its brand image way more effectively. So it’s going to be likely that while they’re making use of a personal enterprise social media communications tool to communicate and collaborate with each other workers are still probably sharing professional information publicly online elsewhere.

The Risks of Public Social Networking

The inherent risks of public social networking are often terribly dangerous for business. And they will definitely pose a large security risk if usage isn’t properly monitored and regulated. Public social media sites can be a very effective portal for malware attacks and also the covert gathering and dissemination of sensitive data. Google the word Facebook and hit the news tab right now and you will see ample demonstration of that reality.

Other threats include network breaches, property theft, leakage of sensitive business data and hijacking of internet sites and social media accounts. Perhaps even worse a single malware instance introduced from an online source – and as we mentioned social media sites are becoming a hacker’s paradise – can cripple the software and hardware systems of a company in just minutes, potentially wrecking all kinds of havoc.

However, these threats seldom actually come from the softwares themselves. Instead, it’s more typically the case that the users – and their behaviors – are the real problem.

Containing these risks calls for a formal security strategy that fuses policies governing the utilization of social media with technology that monitors and protects the company network. It’s then essential to strengthen these policies and technologies with thorough and continuous worker training on acceptable use of social media.

A first step in creating a social media security strategy is classification of business information so staff understand exactly what is — and isn’t — sensitive data. This method also ought to specifically delineate who is permitted to access corporate content and the way that information is used. But there is a lot more to such a policy than that, as we will be exploring in the second part of this blog series.

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