Best Practices for Securing Corporate Data for Use With Social Media
Using social media to achieve business goals is now a global practice. The 2012 Social Media Marketing Industry Report indicated that up to 94 percent of marketing departments use social media heavily in their marketing and advertising strategies. According to Forbes, Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are considered essential for business communication. In addition to their website, companies must cultivate and maintain a consistent social media presence to compete effectively. The use of social media has prompted significant changes in how data is monitored and secured as well. If you choose to allow social media marketing at work, you must learn best practices for securing your corporate data.
Survey the Social Media Landscape
Before you begin to secure corporate data transmitted via social media, you need to do some research. Evaluating each of these points will help you assess your overall threat level.
- Identify social media usage. Usage needs can differ between companies and industries. You may want to involve different departments to assess overall usage level, need and opportunity.
- Identify allowed and disallowed social media. You may want to allow some social media sites that display obvious business benefit but disallow others. Limiting social media site access limits your risk.
- Identify allowed and disallowed tasks. Here you decide how and how much an employee can communicate via social media. For instance, you may allow an employee to log in to Facebook but not upload graphics or use the chat service. You may also want to limit social media usage to a certain percentage of the workday. Each of these actions limits your overall risk.
Understand Social Media Threat Types
Before you can feel confident that you are securing your data with the appropriate online security software, it’s critical to understand the specific threats employees may encounter. Threats differ depending on which social media site an employee is using. Common threats include the following:
- Bad links. Bad links are an easy way for hackers or spammers to get victims to click and download spyware or viruses.
- Bad friends. Here, criminals create a personal page that disguises their identity. They use the social media friendship to corrupt the employee’s account and compromise data security.
- Private messages. Private messages are an easy way for criminals to send links or graphics directly to the social media user they want to contact.
- Apps. Apps will often ask for additional data, including logins and passwords to social media sites, before the user can integrate the app’s features into his social media profile. This allows hackers to compromise the user’s data.
- Wall posts. Because social media’s appeal hinges on breaking news, wall posts are an easy way to lure victims to click on links that appear legitimate but lead somewhere else.
Essentials of Social Media Security
Once you understand how your company needs to use social media to compete and what the most common social media security threats you face are, you can select an appropriate security software package. Your security software should include these elements to ensure comprehensive data security:
- Cloud-based system. Only a cloud-based threat detection and reporting system can handle the volume, velocity and variety of threat types that are transmitted via social media every second.
- Real-time scanning. Real-time scanning detects threats and sends a notification via color-coding or other visual tools while the user is actively engaged with his social media networks.
- Privacy protection. When a social media site changes its privacy settings to allow greater exposure of personal or corporate information, the user is notified to adjust his settings. This protection can extend to app use as well.
- Monitors the sites you use. It is essential that the security software you select comes equipped to monitor every social media site you plan to allow employees access to.
When you understand how you use social media, where the threats exist and what tools you need to safeguard your data, you can confidently allow employees to engage with vendors, customers and colleagues via social media to grow your business.
About the Author: Yao Min Hueng is the publicity manager at his company. One of his responsibilities is to monitor all social media communications by employees and customers. He has also developed the company’s corporate guidelines for social media use.