ATLANTA – The explosive growth of social media marked by Facebook acquiring its 500 millionth user also poses hidden risks to corporate networks and loss of worker time, says Atlanta-based Lancope Inc., which sells network performance and security monitoring software.
“Organizations must consider what Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, blogs, and other social media mean to them, form a social media policy, and educate their users,” said Adam Powers, chief technology officer, Lancope.
“Access to social media networks such as Facebook and Linkedin have proven benefits such as improved moral, collaboration and administrative efficiency. Unfortunately in some organizations the risks could outweigh the value.”
IT administrators should be aware of the following productivity and security issues associated with social networking sites such as Facebook:
1. Workplace Productivity Issues - Facebook Chat and games such as Mafia Wars and Farmville can add up to huge losses in worker productivity if abused. Corporations must adopt a policy on the use of social networking applications, tracking user access and blocking certain sites deemed high-risk. Once a social media policy is established, make sure to educate users on what the policy means to their daily lives.
2. Phishing - Attackers can leverage personal information found on social networking sites to coax victims into giving away confidential or proprietary corporate information. Again, education is the best defense against social engineering attacks through social media.
3. Flash-based Vulnerabilities in Games - Web 2.0 technology has led to an amazingly rich and unfortunately fragile world of games and Web-based apps – many of which run in Facebook’s social media platform. Attack vectors in enabling technology such as Flash have led to multiple incidents over the last few years. Regardless of whether workers are using Flash-based games in the office or at home, if they use a wireless device to access a corporate network and social networking applications, then they are putting their company at risk. A policy against Flash-based gaming and a rigid patch management process pay off well here.
4. Information Leakage – Corporations need to reinforce their policies on proprietary information disclosure into the social media meta-space. Ensuring private company information or SEC regulated information doesn’t make its way into the public’s hands is a must.
5. Network Impact - Organizations with large concentrations of users can see a significant network impact from excessive use of social media, especially YouTube and Facebook. The clicky nature of Facebook games leads to many concurrent connections active from each user which leads to memory and bandwidth consumption across the network. A balance needs to be struck between workers using social networking applications for work and/or for personal use. Firewall, proxy log and NetFlow logs are excellent tools for measuring the impact from social media usage.
- Social networks pose security risks, many firms blocking them
- Survey says: many social media fans check up early, check in late
- Mobile social media use growing rapidly
- Mobile social networking use soars
- Nine of ten people attacked on social networks (infographic)
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