Social networking pervades personal and business communications with Tweets, Facebook updates, Digg posts and similar messaging efforts now essential in today’s knowledge society.
Beyond those social media tools, there is a growing array of social freeware enhancing productivity with tools like browsers and web page builders, making them potentially valuable applications for employees.
However, this social freeware also encourages users to bypass enterprise IT security and share sensitive corporate information. These applications are risky for companies and their employees who may wittingly or unwittingly compromise personal and professional information. A better choice is enterprise social software.
By providing employees with enterprise social networking software that meets their needs for productivity and information sharing, the business short-circuits the desire for employees to go out and find these applications on their own. Consider it the next evolution of the company intranet. An added benefit is increased collaboration among social software users. Social software provides an easy method for sharing documents, notes, video and audio presentations, and any other pertinent information.
Sadly, the enterprise has no control over the usage, access or security vulnerabilities of social software applications developed outside of the company. Simply attempting to forbid the use of these applications is likely to be resisted or ignored completely as employees want to take advantage of the benefits of these tools, regardless of the implications for corporate security.
The company doesn’t necessarily need to develop the enterprise social networking software itself. It can look to the developer community to create applications that meet their needs by building in the capability to control usage through access and authorization limitations.
Among the security precautions to include in any enterprise social networking software application:
The last item should be part of a comprehensive, ongoing effort to ensure that employees are aware of the threats, including some of the more common spyware, malware and social engineering techniques hackers employ in attempts to compromise corporate and personal data.
Social networking can provide enormous benefits for collaboration, customer interaction, competitive intelligence and sense of community. But rather than leaving the company open to the vulnerabilities of social freeware, the prudent companies are deploying enterprise social software.
By Phil Britt