Friday, October 8, 2010

Is social media safe for work?

As we become ever more involved with Facebook, Twitter and the like it's becoming more common for companies to allow employees to access them online. But is that a wise decision? Both Facebook and Twitter have been hit by malware recently, and it is only expected to happen more often. Facebook is built on trust - a commodity that has to be earned in less open environments.

While social networks rely on people trusting each other, in a business environment a certain amount of paranoia can be a good thing. Clicking the wrong link or friending the wrong person can place a companies data and resources - even the most important resource, the customers, in jeopardy. Spam and phishing email rely on people's trusting nature. Facebook encourages it.

Companies often block websites that are known malware hosts. Many block, or used to block, Facebook, Twitter and other social networks. As they have become more popular and marketing departments see promotional opportunities, the demand for access at work has risen, and many companies have relaxed their policies. There are good and valid reasons for businesses to market on Facebook and other social networks, but is it necessary for them to allow all employees access to them?

Companies routinely block sites that are known to be dangerouse or objectionable. Most also have provisions for employees who need to access those sites. The same could be done with social networks. It would make sense to only allow access to social media to those who need it as part of their job. It limits the exposure and can make it easier to track down the source of an infection.

As more companies allow unlimited access to social networks it's only a matter of time before there is a major breach from access of social networks. The only question is when.