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Marketing: 3 Steps for Improving Social Media Security

Is Your Social Media Safe?

I’m not a big moviegoer, but “The Social Network” movie about how Facebook got its start is one that really struck me. I use Facebook. It’s a great way to reunite with old friends and keep in touch with relatives—both near and far. But despite all these advantages, Facebook has a darker side.

Boasting more than 500 million active users worldwide, the social networking site is now being targeted by cybercriminals. For example, last year spammers exploited two Facebook bugs in a week. The bugs allowed spammers to flood the service with messages promoting scams, such as links to a website where they could “win” an iPhone by filling in their personal information.

Small business security is a critical business function, and this includes being aware of the security threats caused by the use of social media sites. Spammers could lure your employees into divulging private information about themselves, your company, or your customers. Employees could unknowingly install Facebook applications that are really malware that could invade your network. And employees’ use of these sites could also reduce their productivity.

Last year, Cisco surveyed its customers’ employee use of social media at work and found that 7 percent of Facebook users spend an average 68 minutes a day playing the popular Facebook-hosted interactive game FarmVille. An additional 5 percent of employees spent 52 minutes a day playing Mafia Wars, another Facebook application game.

Improving social media security
You’re aware of the power of social media, particularly for your small business. But what can you do to protect your company and your employees from the threats of these tools? Here are three steps you can take to improve your social media security:

1. Make sure applications are up-to-date:
Regularly check for and install any new updates or patches to the programs running on your employees’ computers, laptops, and smartphones—any device they use to access company data. Ensuring that Web protection applications are up-to-date, especially anti-virus and anti-spam software, will protect your company, employees, and customer data against cybercriminals.

2. Secure your network from the ground up:
Adding layers of security to your network will help protect your company from within as well as from the outside. Routers, security appliances, and intrusion prevention systems (IPSes) work to defend your entire network and protect critical business data from malicious threats and intruders.

3. Establish acceptable use policies:
Create a guideline for what is and is not acceptable employee behavior on social media sites. Then, make sure to educate employees about those policies.

Here’s an easy first step for any small business to institute: Cultivate a workplace environment that encourages your employees to talk to you about social media usage. If not, employees could make bad decisions that impact your company’s security.

Diana WongWeb Marketing Team, Cisco Systems
Diana specializes in marketing and social media related to helping small businesses grow and succeed. | Facebook | More from Diana

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