Safe Social Networking

Anyone who thinks that these cutting-edge tools aren't used at work is kidding themselves. The benefits are self-evident, as are the dangers. Organizations shouldn't just cross their fingers. Reducing the dangers of social networking in the workplace requires that businesses acknowledge the challenges and act accordingly.

By Carl Weinschenk | Posted Aug 22, 2011
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One of the frightening things about social media, which increasingly is an enfranchised element of unified communications, is that its basic precept of openness and inclusion is diametrically opposite to the corporate goal of security. It only is with great care that these platforms should be deployed. 

The other side of the coin, however, is that the work force – especially millennials – will use social media tools no matter what the company says. So having a secure platform available to them at the end of the day is the only real option. 

It seems that organization still are trying to stop it. GMA News offers a post on a Kaspersky Lab's survey of 1,300 IT pros from 11 countries. The bottom line is that 72 percent restrict or ban social networking. That is roughly the same level of restrictiveness as peer-to-peer and a bit more than online gaming, video streaming and instant messaging. More developed countries tend to be more restrictive, Kaspersky says.

Blogger Debra Donston-Miller at InformationWeek offers four specific areas of which enterprises should be aware: Link sharing, social engineering, information leaks and, a bit more broadly, allowing the corporate brand to be tarnished by less-than-wholesome associations that sometimes are frequented by social networkers.

The post has a paragraph on each of these. The bottom line is pretty obvious: All of the things that make social networking good have the potential to make it bad – very bad.

Symantec, as if to prove the point, posted results of its 2011 Social Media Protection Poll late last month. The findings, according to Continuity Central, were not encouraging:

The typical enterprise experienced nine social media incidents, such as employees posting confidential information publicly over the past year, with 94 percent suffering negative consequences including damage to their reputations, loss of customer trust, data loss and lost revenue.

The poll found that employees shared too much information in public forums (46 percent of respondents), lost or exposed confidential information (41 percent) and increased the company's legal exposure (37 percent). The survey highlighted costs (more than $1 billion in reduced stock prices, for instance) and offered four recommendations.

A post at Portfolio warns against two specific threats: Koobface and Zeus. The bottom line is that hackers and crackers clearly are exploiting social networks. The problem is almost certain to get worse before it gets better. How bad it truly gets, however, is up to businesses.

 

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