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BLOG: Social networking without the risk

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

->Selective Social Networking Controls - To protect against data loss and comply with industry-specific regulations, you need to be able to manage the actions your employees can take within social networking sites. For example, you may want to prevent employees from uploading attachments, photos or video to social media sites, thereby preventing risks of inadvertent data loss or risks to your corporate reputation. The key is to have granular control over what can be done within social networking. This requires a solution that not only looks at where the initial traffic is coming from (e.g. Facebook, YouTube, etc.), but also at what is being done within that application (e-mail, posting messages, downloading attachments).

->Caching - You can't allow social media to overrun your network and adversely impact business critical applications. However, because social networking is becoming so integral to business, you cannot simply block it. What you can do is offset any potential performance degradation with caching, which allows you to locally store data and video files after an initial download and make them readily available to users who want to subsequently access them. In this way, you can enable access to social networking without compromising the performance of other traffic on the network.

->Policy Flexibility - To manage productivity, you need to be able to set acceptable use policies within social media. You may choose, for instance, to block access to Farmville during work hours; or if you allow it, you may want to give it a lower priority, so it doesn't impact business critical applications. With a flexible policy framework, you can prioritise and manage the activities that are allowed or disallowed, and when. The ability to delineate between social networking sites and specific applications or content within those sites is crucial to setting an effective acceptable use policy. So, if you elect to block games, you can block both standalone games, as well as games within social media sites.

Realising the promise of social networking no longer needs to be a potential risk for the business.  Embracing social media only requires the right security.

Jonathan Andresen is director of product marketing for Blue Coat Systems in Asia Pacific.


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