Social Habits Threaten Corporate Security

by Matt Klassen on April 23, 2013

With the rise of social networking and the concomitant rise of the BYOD movement corporate security and IT professionals have been pulling their hair out, struggling to fill the holes left by the habits of the modern social worker in companies’ often patchwork network security protocols.

The ability to instantly share information has made it increasingly difficult to control the dissemination of sensitive company information and affords hackers and other ne’er-do-wells unprecedented fodder to fashion increasingly focused cyber-attacks. But according to some analysts, social networking and BYOD present a much more pervasive threat to corporate security… by changing the way we think about private information altogether.

To wit, while much has been said over the last few years regarding the tumultuous relationship between security and social networking, its becoming increasingly evident that people are quickly developing an uncritical penchant towards offering up their personal information for almost any reason, with many willing to “take and share data” without considering the consequences, and its this nonchalant attitude that will soon inevitably invade the corporate sector.

This attitude towards data security and privacy is, “not necessarily malicious,” Chris Petersen, founder and CTO of LogRhythm explains, “but the sensitivity around the handling of private, confidential data has eroded socially. We’ve gotten to the point where we value privacy and confidentiality less in our personal lives. I don’t know how that doesn’t permeate into the workforce.”

As one security analyst explains, “Employee attitudes toward information, generally, are becoming looser as to what they define as personal information and business information,” meaning that the more interaction employees have with social media, the more chance there is that sensitive information is accidentally leaked and corporate security compromised.

While social networking certainly contributes to this blurring of the lines between people’s personal and business lives, significant responsibility lies with the BYOD movement as well, as allowing people to bring and use their own personal devices at work has removed that physical reminder (i.e. switching devices) of the demarcation of the two worlds; meaning that people simply don’t think about whether they’re engaging in personal or work related interactions, they’ve become the same thing in our social mind.

What’s more, security analysts are quick to point out that most businesses not only don’t consider social media as such a threat, almost none have a security plan in place to deal with such pervasive security risks, creating a dangerous situation where IT professionals are left trying to fill an increasing number of holes in the network with a decreasing number of fingers.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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