Security Surrounds Social Networking

The popularity of social networking has created a problem that anyone with an information systems degree would expect: security.

Not only are people using social networks at home, but at work. That creates large vulnerabilities. In fact, a recent survey showed that 42 percent of network administrators are moderately to extremely concerned about employees using social networks in the office because of the accompanying security threats.

That makes cybersecurity one of the hottest I.T. jobs of the future. However, cybersecurity is a broad field, and some of the specialties — mobile device and software security, for example — are growing needs that are often out of the experience of existing experts. Social network security will be another important area.

The big concerns about social network security include virus downloads, information leaks and possible intrusion.

 “Social networks were initially strictly for entertainment purposes, so their use by employees at work constituted a waste of company time, as well as a vulnerability,” says Alex Lazo, I.T. professor at American Sentinel University. Now, organizations are starting to realize how powerful social networks truly are. “As a result, companies are loosening the reigns on their employees, and this poses an even greater risk for organization because it is more troublesome to administer limited access than it is to cut off access altogether,” adds Lazo.

Some of the most important forms of security for social media are actually social in nature:

>> Policies and procedures – The organization has to carefully think through what social network access to give employees. An all or nothing approach may not make sense, especially as a growing number of social networks offer important business opportunities and a chance to develop contacts. But tie social network-specific policies to all relevant I.T. policies.

>> Training – The biggest danger in social networks is how people use them. Not only do they need to know the agency’s policies, but you’ll also have to show them how those policies translate into actually using a given social network.

>> Monitoring – As President Reagan famously said, trust but verify. The organization should intelligently track what employees do on social networks. That doesn’t mean recording every detail, which would create a mountain of unexamined data. But see if people use social networks at times they’re not supposed to. Also, regularly scan public interactions, like on Twitter, to be sure that employees who officially represent the agency do so properly.

Unfortunately, people are often careless when using social networks. According to the study, only 16 percent said that employees had no access. That spells a lot of organizations with potential risk, so the demand for I.T. professionals has never been greater.

“Cybersecurity will continue to be a relevant and in-demand field for years to come,” says Lazo. “While real-world experience is essential, gone are the days when this was considered sufficient by employers. Professionals need a practical education to complement their experience. For most busy adults, their only option is a distance-based education program that provides them with the tools to advance, without putting their families and careers on hold.”

Social networks are not about to disappear and trying to eliminate them would be like waging a battle against phones during the early days of telecommunications. Instead, I.T. professionals can learn to help companies safely embrace it — and help their careers at the same time.

–More info: www.americansentinel.edu/information-technology

The popularity of social networking has created a problem that anyone with an information systems degree would expect: security.

Not only are people using social networks at home, but at work. That creates large vulnerabilities. In fact, a recent survey showed that 42 percent of network administrators are moderately to extremely concerned about employees using social networks in the office because of the accompanying security threats.

That makes cybersecurity one of the hottest I.T. jobs of the future. However, cybersecurity is a broad field, and some of the specialties — mobile device and software security, for example — are growing needs that are often out of the experience of existing experts. Social network security will be another important area.

The big concerns about social network security include virus downloads, information leaks and possible intrusion.

 “Social networks were initially strictly for entertainment purposes, so their use by employees at work constituted a waste of company time, as well as a vulnerability,” says Alex Lazo, I.T. professor at American Sentinel University. Now, organizations are starting to realize how powerful social networks truly are. “As a result, companies are loosening the reigns on their employees, and this poses an even greater risk for organization because it is more troublesome to administer limited access than it is to cut off access altogether,” adds Lazo.

Some of the most important forms of security for social media are actually social in nature:

>> Policies and procedures – The organization has to carefully think through what social network access to give employees. An all or nothing approach may not make sense, especially as a growing number of social networks offer important business opportunities and a chance to develop contacts. But tie social network-specific policies to all relevant I.T. policies.

>> Training – The biggest danger in social networks is how people use them. Not only do they need to know the agency’s policies, but you’ll also have to show them how those policies translate into actually using a given social network.

>> Monitoring – As President Reagan famously said, trust but verify. The organization should intelligently track what employees do on social networks. That doesn’t mean recording every detail, which would create a mountain of unexamined data. But see if people use social networks at times they’re not supposed to. Also, regularly scan public interactions, like on Twitter, to be sure that employees who officially represent the agency do so properly.

Unfortunately, people are often careless when using social networks. According to the study, only 16 percent said that employees had no access. That spells a lot of organizations with potential risk, so the demand for I.T. professionals has never been greater.

“Cybersecurity will continue to be a relevant and in-demand field for years to come,” says Lazo. “While real-world experience is essential, gone are the days when this was considered sufficient by employers. Professionals need a practical education to complement their experience. For most busy adults, their only option is a distance-based education program that provides them with the tools to advance, without putting their families and careers on hold.”

Social networks are not about to disappear and trying to eliminate them would be like waging a battle against phones during the early days of telecommunications. Instead, I.T. professionals can learn to help companies safely embrace it — and help their careers at the same time.

–More info: www.americansentinel.edu/information-technology

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