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Does social media pose a security risk in your office?

Social media has grown into a hugely significant aspect of life in the 21st century, with brands like Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and professional network LinkedIn now holding great power.

Earlier this year, statistics aggregator Statista compiled a report showing that Facebook is the biggest name in social media, with nearly 1.6 billion active users. WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook, was a fairly distant second.

Inevitably, the popularity of these platforms has had an impact on business and the workplace. Social media can be an extremely useful tool for companies - when it comes to marketing and brand building, for instance - but there are also times when it can prove problematic.

As well as potentially hindering productivity by distracting employees from their day-to-day responsibilities, social media could pose a threat to security. This is an issue that managers should be keeping track of to make sure they have the necessary precautions in place.

How is social media endangering security?

One of the main threats posed by social media as far as workplace security is concerned is the ever-accelerating spread of data - including potentially sensitive information - online. Employees who get into the habit of engaging in conversation with people - some of whom they may have never met in person - via social media could be duped into revealing details about your company that you don't want to fall into the wrong hands.

While this could pose a cybersecurity threat and open up your business to hackers, there is also a risk of your company becoming a target for physical attacks. For instance, criminals might seek to use social media to find out the times that you take deliveries of goods, procedures for transporting cash to the bank, or times of the day when certain parts of your workplace will be empty and vulnerable to a break-in.

Discussing this issue with Professional Security magazine, Matt Webster, a researcher at IT security firm SecureWorks, said: "We have seen examples of threat groups using social media platforms (such as LinkedIn) to identify particular profiles of individuals within organisations they are trying to target, and to cultivate relationships that can later be exploited as part of their attack.

"Not only can adversaries identify and communicate with individuals of interest, via overly descriptive job role descriptions, they may also find information that might assist their attack planning (e.g. the security tools and technologies deployed within a target network, and individuals working in desirable areas of an organisation)."

If you are concerned about any physical threats to your company, it could prove beneficial to consult with a professional security provider. This will help you gain a better understanding of your vulnerabilities and how to address them.

Controlling social media activity

Like so many challenges in the workplace, one of the best ways to address security issues linked to social media is by tackling the problem at source.

Social media has become such a common feature of people's lives - both inside and outside of work - that companies need to come up with policies to inform employees about what is and isn't acceptable in the workplace.

Other steps that could prove beneficial include:

•    Telling employees to check their privacy settings so they know who is able to see their social media profiles.
 •    Informing staff if you plan to monitor social media activity, to ensure it doesn't pose a security risk or hinder productivity.
 •    Running training sessions to make sure employees are aware of how they should be conducting themselves online.

Posted by Julie Tucker

Image courtesy of iStock/Rawpixel Ltd


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