The free marketing and publicity that can be accessed through Facebook and other social media websites are attractive to SMBs who don’t have big marketing budgets. However, a recent Symantec poll found that in one year the typical SMB experienced nine social media incidents, such as an employee posting confidential information on his profile or accidentally falling for a malware scam. Of the organizations surveyed, 94% claim they suffered negative consequences due to the incident.
Privacy concerns and data loss top list of SMB challenges presented by social networking tools. Privacy issues could range from an employee disparaging the company in an online rant, to accidentally or purposefully disclosing confidential company information. These types of incidents have a bigger effect on SMBs because smaller businesses are less able to throw money at the problem when it comes time to mitigate the damage.
Productivity loss is another challenge SMB managers will have to address when they allow employees to access Facebook and social media from the office. In the Symantec study, workplace inefficiencies were listed at the number one productivity challenge, followed by malware, data loss and viruses caused by insecure web applications. There is a real dollar value associated with the lost productivity due to employees who can’t pull themselves away from social media websites. Since SMBs have smaller staffs, they tend to feel the loss when one of their members isn’t pulling their weight.
Additionally, SMBs that enable Facebook and Twitter open themselves up to a variety of malware, spam and phishing attacks. If an employee clicks on the wrong video or scam, it could install a keylogger or other malicious software that could steal data from your business. The study found that SMBs who rely on legacy security infrastructure and outdated software and hardware without specific content scanning and filtering are at the highest risk for data loss.
SMBs need to find a balance between the security and productivity issues associated with Facebook and social media sites and the marketing and promotion opportunities such sites provide. The solution to these productivity and privacy challenges is a mix of proper endpoint security and education about the responsible use of social media in the workplace.
Proper SMB-focused endpoint security products include sophisticated web and content security protection as well as comprehensive anti-malware and application firewalls. The most cost-effective and reliable way for SMBs to address social media security challenges is to create viable Internet usage policies and work with their technology partner to implement the proper endpoint security that can block in appropriate websites and third-party applications as well as protect against other internal and external security threats.
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