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BLOG: Social networking without the risk

Jonathan Andresen | July 21, 2011
Embracing social media only requires the right security.

2. Data Loss: Social networking is about making connections and sharing experiences and information, however, sometimes that information is not meant to be made public. It's not uncommon for people to inadvertently post confidential information - "hey, I just met with xxx and I think I am about to make a huge commission," or "I'm pulling my hair out, if we can't fix this software bug soon, I don't know that I will ever sleep again," that provides "insider knowledge." There have also been cases in which employees have unintentionally posted proprietary software code to social networking sites, exposing sensitive intellectual property. These actions, though unintentional, can potentially violate industry-specific regulations, impact your reputation, or put you at a competitive disadvantage.

3. Bandwidth Consumption: As much as 40 percent of employees report that they are on social networking sites at work, creating a potential strain on bandwidth to the detriment of other business applications. Last year, when the U.S. government mandated open access to social networks, traffic on the network increased by 25 percent. Video alone (think of all the videos your friends share and you link to through Facebook or Twitter), can overwhelm many networks. A single video stream usually consumes between 500k to 1.2 Mbps (and that's not even HD, which can be up to 4 to 7 Mbps), and when you have tens or hundreds of people accessing videos, it's easy to see how overall performance can degrade.

4. Productivity Loss: Social networking sites are becoming online destinations, enabling you to post and read messages, date, shop, upload or check out videos, and play games. This makes them increasingly convenient and engaging for users, drawing them to spend more and more time there, as well as increasingly challenging for the business to appropriately control. When unchecked, the time spent on social networking sites can affect productivity, as your employees spend more and more time (think back on the 700 billion minutes on Facebook) playing Farmville during business hours.

New Requirements to Keep Your Business Safe

While you find yourself compelled to allow social media to compete and thrive in today's global economy, you do not need to expose your business to undue risk. There are ways to protect against and mitigate the risks posed by social networking. Specifically, your solution needs to provide:

->A Real-Time Web Defence - Social networking is constantly changing, as are the tactics used by attackers to exploit it. As a result, your solution needs to analyse your Web traffic on the fly and uncover threats that may be hidden there. Real-time analysis of dynamically changing links provides risk analysis and timely protection to keep social media safe. So when you see "hey you should take a look at this," you can either allow or deny based on the potential risk it poses.


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