How the expansion of social media and mobile impacts network security
Part 1 of 2.
Network security is becoming an increasing concern with the popularity of employees bringing their mobile devices to work. Remember the days when you left the office and your work was done for the day? Anything work related that came up after “work hours” had to wait until the next day. Remember when constant communication via phone or email was the only way to keep in touch with people and not miss a beat? There was no way to retrieve a work related voicemail or email if you were not in your physical office. What about social networking? Without Facebook, LinkedIn or any other social media sites, you had to physically communicate in order to keep in touch rather than just read the daily posts from colleges and friends. How times have changed with the rise of social media and mobile technology. If you can’t reach someone in their office, you call their mobile device. Maybe you send them an email. In this day and age, everyone can retrieve their personal and/or work email on their mobile device. There’s no hiding anymore. With five billion people now with Facebook profiles and over 175 million users on LinkedIn, networking has taken on a whole new meaning, giving us the ability to reach the masses upon the click of a button. This phenomenon leaves us with an important question: With the rise of social media and mobile devices, how are technology manufacturers planning to use security to protect companies from their employees bringing in unwanted users into their network?
Any employee using a device that’s hooked up to your company network is susceptible to making your network vulnerable to an outside attack. Not everyone fully understands the security ramifications of what could happen if an unauthorized person gains access to a network. Everything from a simple virus to a total loss of data can cost a company immensely.
Without the proper security on a device and or a company network, people working remotely out of a public unsecured network are the most common targets for attack. Dangerous activities include:
- Accepting friend requests on social media sites without really knowing who‘s on the other end
- Logging into networks without understanding how secure they are
- Forgetting to turn off automatic sharing
- Ignoring security updates
Pinpointing weaknesses in a network or even a mobile device is the best method for making sure attacks don’t happen. Having your network administrator point the finger at you as the culprit who caused malware to enter a corporate network could result in punishment or even worse, termination. It could also result in the loss of clients due to a tainted company reputation. Most importantly, it could result in a company closing their doors for business. Who wants to give vital information or credit card information to a company who can’t keep that data behind a secure lock and key? Who would want to work with a company where data is not secure, including your own?
There are people, and companies, that have the “It can’t happen to me” belief. Is that a plausible excuse when the network administrator finds where the hacker gained entry and the finger is pointed at you because of something you did?
Many people who are not considered “IT savvy” think that gaining access to a company’s network and/or data comes from outside the network in the form of spam (email). But what most people have to keep in mind is that it could come from the inside as well (disgruntled or irresponsible employees).
How secure is your network? Where do IT Managers need to make improvements on their internal and external security?
Network security manufacturers are improving their technology to accommodate for the rise of social networking, social media security, personal wireless devices and malware. A friend of mine started working for a company that does not allow ANY outside devices onto their network (personal phones, tablets, laptops, etc). It sounds crazy in this day and age where BYOD is such a growing trend, but it shows how far a company is willing to go to make sure their network is secure.
Employees bring their work issued devices into a public networks where the method of security is questionable at times. Users are also bringing their personal devices into the workplace and schools, logging onto websites, and accepting friend requests that would make teachers and administrators extremely uncomfortable. With the rise of social media, mobile devices and malware, users are not being properly educated on how to take the necessary social media security precautions to avoid unauthorized access to not only their immediate device being compromised, but their data as well.
A few days ago, I received a call from someone asking to speak to my wife and I replied that she wasn’t home. The person then asked for her cell phone number or work number. When I asked what this was in relation to, they hung up. There are people that give out information at will with no idea what the recourse could be. You never know what someone can and will do with the slightest bit of information.
Random phone calls like the example mentioned above, spam emails and social networking link requests (Facebook, Linkedin, etc) are ways to test that employees are always using caution to avoid an outside attack. As an added security precaution, I never accept a Facebook or LinkedIn request from people I don’t know. I may send them an email asking how they know me and what they want out of the link, but I never just carelessly click accept.
IT Managers can approach the matter of network and social media security in a few ways. Read part two of my blog on what companies are doing to keep up with the rise of social media, wireless and mobile devices and how they impact network security.
Is your organization equipped and ready for the constant rise of social media, mobile use and more intense malware? Request a free consultation with one of our security experts by filling out the form to your right and we will get in touch within 24 hours. (Note: This is not a sales meeting/call and you will receive a deliverable).
Proceed to Part II of the discussion on how social media and mobile devices impacts network security.
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