Social Media and Information Security - Why Should We Care?

Social media is among the Internet's biggest achievements. With nearly 850 million monthly users and 100 billion social connections on Facebook alone, there is no doubt that social media dominates our personal communications. But individuals are not alone in using social media. Organizations are increasingly aware of the potential for social networking to address strategic needs and use social media as tools to support marketing efforts, enable greater collaboration, spread important causes and generate change. But undeniably, social networking poses serious security risks, and every organization is a potential victim.

What was once a series of isolated security incidents has now become almost commonplace in the business world. The recent onslaught of cybercrimes through social media proves that no company is too large to invade (examples include Google, Yahoo, LinkedIn and Pinterest), and hackers gladly attack organizations across all industries, from agriculture and information technology to nuclear science. Large or small, the cost of a security breach can be devastating to your organization and your stakeholders. At a minimum, it is a source of embarrassment. But many attacks directly result in loss of revenue, customer mistrust, legal fees, and many other unforeseen consequences.

Organizations that are familiar with social media generally fall into two main categories:
1. Those that embrace social media and view it as the marketing engine that propels their business. Companies in this category sometimes overlook security risk.
2. Those that fear social media because of the overwhelming risk involved and discourage or even prohibit its use.

Social media can be a very effective tool that can benefit most organizations and its use will only increase in the future. Ignoring risks can have devastating consequences, but being paralyzed by fear can stifle any social media-driven business value. It is therefore crucial that organizations in both categories learn to identify and mitigate risk involved.