Employee Social Media Use: Is it Making the Workplace Vulnerable to Cyber Attacks?

Media Division | November 23, 2016

Use of social media has become a great way to showcase yourself to potential employers. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram allow users to network between workplaces and expand upon their resources to perform better at their jobs. While the benefits of social media are plentiful for the modern employee, there are rising concerns about the potential risks to browsing personal accounts on your work computer or cellphone.

According to a recent report from Wombat Security Technologies, safe social media use is the number one cybersecurity challenge for employees. Wombat surveyed hundreds of employees from varying sectors that included but were not limited to finance, healthcare, technology, and education.

The Journal delved deeper into the survey by nothing that “when broken down by industry, education was among the top three sectors that struggle the most in the social media realm, missing 36 percent of assessment questions on safe social media use. The other two sectors with the least social media savvy: telecommunications (38 percent) and retail (34 percent missed.)”

In addition to using their work computers to browse social media, many employees take their work home or to a public location on a laptop, tablet or smartphone. If an employee is logged into work e-mail or projects from a remote location with an unsecure Wi-Fi connection, the odds of a hacker gaining access to that information greatly increases.

Enforcing Internet and Social Media Policies

With the click of a button, sensitive information can be blasted across social media websites for millions to see. Although there is the ability to edit or delete remarks, it only takes one mistake or shared misinformation to ruin a companies’ brand and reputation.

Organizations should, of course, be enforcing social media policies and internet usage limitations by default. But, for many workplaces, the employee handbook of restrictions and privileges is often not enough to effectively train and educate employees on how to prevent a security breach before it happens.

Some workplaces outside the U.S. are taking matters into their own hands. Investec, a large investment bank located in the United Kingdom decided to address the growing concerns of cyber security and protecting themselves by implementing technology to monitor any mention of their name on social media and across other internet platforms. Computer Weekly explains Investec’s clever and forward-thinking strategy to protect themselves from the public as well as from any potential insider threats.

“The other technology piece is a granular firewall to limit social media activities based on the users’ role of the organization. The most important part of Investec’s social media security strategy is awareness of its policies designed to ensure regulatory compliance and to prevent commercially sensitive information leaking.”

Computer Weekly noted that the bank’s social media policy is made clear with ten bullet points provided to all staff on that specify what their obligations are before each time they choose to post something on social media.

It is important to remember that social media and internet use can be just as useful as it can be threatening to a brand or organization. With the extreme popularity of internet and social media use for networking and marketing, it would serve an organization a disadvantage to entirely block access to these platforms within the workplace.

As millennials and younger more technologically savvy generations enter the workforce, embracing their computer skills is essential to reaching a broader market, several times faster than if gone without. Implementing a set of comprehensible, stringent policies for all employees to follow will create a more productive, secure workplace in the end.

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