While social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook can be used by companies as a valuable marketing channel, AVG has urged business owners to monitor how employees use the websites.
Security expert and professor in the Computer Science department at Columbia University, Herbert Thompson said that people may post personal details such as their Mother’s maiden name, which is often used by secure web sites as password prompts.
“People are posting indiscriminately – they throw weird information out there. What has happened is there has been a growth in the technology for information sharing but not a commensurate education in what information we should share,” says Thompson.
Companies should then consider creating and enforcing regulations on how social networking sites should be used, especially in relation to company business.
“Ignoring the increased usage and influence of social networking and Web 2.0 tools leaves organisations at the risk of misuse, potentially leading to the disclosure of sensitive information or misrepresentation of the company,” said Evgeny Kaganer, Ph.D., lead researcher and assistant professor, IESE Business School.
According to Lloyd Borrett, AVG (AU/NZ) Marketing Manager, in addition to developing high-level policies for the use of social networks, there are some simple guidelines that managers can provide to staff to minimise the risks.
“The fact that they are so user friendly makes them dangerous. You don’t mind your friends knowing where you live, or when your birthday is, or what your mother’s maiden name is, but if the bad guys manage to hack into your friend’s account, then they find out that information as well,” said Borrett.
Borrett advises that something as simple as creating separate passwords for each site, that are also different from log-ins for company systems, can be effective. Being generally cautious about who staff interact with and what applications they install is a good guideline.
“Your mother advised you to never talk to strangers. The same goes for social networking sites. If you don’t know who they are, don’t talk to them,” he added.
“Finally, be careful what applications you agree to install. There are a million people developing applications for these sites and something tells me they are not all good guys,” concluded Borrett.