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A CSO’s guide to empowering social media in the workplace

EdgeWave is an industry leader in social media security. With over one billion users of social media, enterprises look to EdgeWave’s mobile enabled cloud solutions for the productive and safe use of social media, as well as email and web security. For over 15 years EdgeWave has developed cutting-edge, award-winning solutions with innovative pricing that enables enterprises to rapidly and confidently embrace the internet connected world in a financially optimal way.

Info Security PG: What are the risks CSOs must be aware of when it comes to allowing social media in the workplace?

Dave Maquera: Access to social media at work can make for happier and more productive employees, which ultimately fuels business growth.  But it also brings new risks, such as HR and related legal issues, regulatory noncompliance, brand and reputation damage, confidential data leakage and lost productivity.  But blocking these technologies isn’t an answer, since this puts you at a competitive disadvantage to the company across the street that has embraced these technologies to help drive growth.

Info Security PG: Social media has obvious benefits from the marketing and sales perspective, but what are some of the dangers of social media when not properly managed?

Dave Maquera: The first is the legal and regulatory risk when an employee shares confidential corporate or client information.  There are countless examples of FINRA and HIPPA fines in the six figures when sensitive information is leaked.  The second risk is brand image.  A disgruntled employee, or one with an off-color sense of humor, could post something reckless under the company’s name.  A recent example is a Major League Baseball staffer that posted insensitive tweets under each of the 30 teams’ Twitter accounts – while he was reprimanded internally; it was the teams themselves that suffered public discredit.  A third risk is lost productivity from employees using social media for personal use rather fully utilizing for work items.

Info Security PG: So why are organizations hesitant when deploying social media solutions?

Dave Maquera: Social media poses many challenges to a company looking to enable it in the workplace.  First is the ability for a single individual to disseminate information on a global scale instantly.  Once posted, the impact of a tweet lasts forever, whether it was quickly removed or not.  Second, social media accounts often cross over between an individual’s personal and professional life, creating additional risk of something intended for a small, personal group to be widely distributed.    

Info Security PG: How can organizations tap into the power of social media and mitigate the risks?

Dave Maquera: There are two key elements required for organizations to safely tap into social media – proper policies and controls to enforce these policies.  Organizations need to craft social media policies with clear rules and requirements for what an employee is allowed to say about their employers, customers and partners.  A quick Google search will turn up many Acceptable Use Policy templates that companies can use as a starting point.

The second element is the use of technology to support these new social media usage policies.  There is an array of options in the market that help companies enforce and monitor social networking usage, preventing the posting of language inconsistent with corporate policy, and enforcing access to corporate social networking accounts.  This combination of policy and technological enforcement will enable companies to embrace social media while mitigating risk related to broad base usage.

Company: EdgeWave
15333 Avenue of Science, San Diego, CA 92128 U.S.A.

Founded in: 1995
CEO: Dave Maquera
Public or Private: Private
Head Office in Country: United States
Products: Social, mobile, email and web securing and data protection
Company's Goals: Enabling organizations to drive their businesses by confidently empowering new technology