Web 2.0 and social media are growing at an alarming rate, businesses are starting to realise the benefits these tools bring enabling them to get closer to customers and improve brand experience. Interacting with customers more closely has demonstrated its advantages in gaining an edge over competitors.
But what does this mean for business functionality and for security in the workplace? It is important to differentiate social networks from other web 2.0 functionalities.
Social networks such as Myspace, Twitter and Facebook are arguably difficult tools to justify in the workplace – It is important to keep staff happy but keeping them distracted will not be beneficial to any growing business.
There are certain business environments where web 2.0 can be very useful, a number of our own clients have started using social media and blogs for marketing tactics.
One company we worked with used Web 2.0 to provide an interactive platform full of user-submitted content. As well as providing content, enthusiastic members of the forum could talk to each other giving valuable feedback without the company having to pay for expensive surveys or research.
Web 2.0 can be very useful for business, but as they become more aware of the security risks associated with using Web 2.0, more often than not the knee jerk reaction is to stop staff using these technologies all together.
However, there are new technologies emerging, which offer granular control of Web 2.0, meaning security professionals and businesses can configure Firewalls to control applications. So instead of blocking a range of ports, they can control particular functionalities like chat, email, applications and file transfer.
Businesses should also be aware of the risks associated with using third party libraries and applications when developing Web 2.0 environments, which have, in my experience, had the potential to damage and weaken overall security.
To avoid this happening, companies using Web 2.0 technologies should make sure that application and website code is fully checked and is securely written.
There is no need to panic about Web 2.0 and social media, businesses just need to think about how useful the technology is to them and then develop their security solution around that.
The most important thing for companies to do is to make sure they know how staff are using Web 2.0 and social media. With this information, businesses can apply a balanced security policy which secures access without inhibiting legitimate usage.