Social networking has recently become the in-thing. If you are not on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin or MySpace then you are not connected (pun intended). Social networks have become all-pervasive and have become starting points for many a friendship.
These sites have however become a test for companies. Apart from contending with lost productivity, companies are also challenged by the security threat these sites pose to corporate data. This is because web-based attacks are increasingly coming from social network sites.
Spammers and hackers have discovered that they can distribute more viruses and malicious code through social network sites. If company employees are accessing these sites on their business PCs and laptops, then company data can be at risk. It is therefore crucial to sensitize employees on the do’s and don’ts of social networking.
Clicking on unknown/shortened links in a social network site can open you up to malicious attacks and breach company data security. These links are also called blind links where the destination website cannot be seen in the URL due to shortening. Bit.ly is an example of a web service which shrinks long URLs.
Another way to stay safe is to beware of fake friends. I am sure you heard this advice when you were a child, it is still relevant today. Cyber criminals are hijacking accounts and distributing messages to all the contacts in a hijacked contact book. By clicking on such a message from a fake friend you are led to an external site that downloads a Trojan in your computer. If you receive an unusual message from a friend confirm who the sender is before opening.
Setting strong passwords for a Facebook or Twitter account is recommended. These passwords should be changed at least every 30 days. Employees should also be encouraged to improve IT security by not leaving passwords on default settings when using these sites.
Any social network user should be careful not to share personal information when communicating online. Information such as postal address, date of birth, bank details and others can be pieced from different sites in order to steal an individual identity. This is possible if personal details are liberally revealed.
Investing in anti-virus software is a must. Simply downloading free anti-virus software only saves you in the short term but once your computer is infected it can cost a fortune to fix.