Cyber Security Awareness Month - Day 27 - Social Media use in the office

Published: 2010-10-28
Last Updated: 2010-10-28 01:41:56 UTC
by Rick Wanner (Version: 1)
2 comment(s)

On Day 27 of the 2010 version of Cyber Security Awareness Month we want your view on the use of social media in the office.

Unless you are in one of those few industries or parts of government or military where the control of data is so strict that you can forbid Internet use then it is very likely that your company has had to deal with the conundrum of whether or not to allow access to social media sites.  There is no doubt that from your corporate point of view that there may be huge benefits, not the least of which is low cost access to your customer base, both for customer feedback and for targeted advertising, but there are huge risks, some of which are increased exposure to malware, intellectual property and confidential information leakage, productivity issues, and exposure to objectionable content.

 I am not going to get into the discussion of whether companies should or shouldn't allow access to social media.  That should be an individual company risk versus reward decision.  But if you do decide to go ahead, here is my list of the minimum you should have in place.

  • Internet Acceptable Use Policy - hopefully your company already has one.  An Internet AUP defines the parameters of acceptable use for your company's Internet resources.  Most companies have come down on the side of limiting work-based Internet use to usage directly related to job responsibilities with limited personal use being acceptable.  The two big things are that if your jurisdiction permits it you should indicate that the network can be monitored and that all data stored on company resources belongs to the company.  A good sample Internet AUP is available at the SANS Internet Security Policy Templates page.
  • Social Networking Policy - more and more companies are publishing a social networking policy.  In a nutshell it defines what people can and can't say online.  This policy should indicate that employees can only speak on behalf of the company within their area of responsibility and that they must clearly identify who they are.  It also should define what they can and can't talk about.  Obviously intellectual property, trade secrets, sensitive corporate information, and customer and partner information should be off the table. Most importantly the policy should provide a reporting mechanism to be utilized if employees trip over inappropriate information about your company. Here is a good sample social media policy to help you get started.
  • Management training - no policy should be published without adequate training.  In this case managers must be made aware of the policy and what is an isn't appropriate for their employees to be doing.  What is the difference between limited personal use and abuse?  Where do I report a potential problem?
  • Employee training - employees must also be trained on the social media policy.  They need to know under what conditions they can speak on behalf of the company, and where the line is between limited personal use and abuse. Employees will also be your best source of reporting of inappropriate information being posted, so be sure to let them know how to report issues.
  • Apply Operations Security (OpSec) - OpSec is a military term which describes a process to determine if information which can be obtained by adversaries could be useful to them and minimizing the impact of that information.  Applying this concept to InfoSec, I am referring to a process of monitoring the Internet with the goal of identifying corporate information which could be useful for competitive intelligence, or which could  present your company in a negative light, and have it removed when possible.  Google alerts are a good place to start in this area.

I've gone on long enough.  It is your turn to provide us with guidance.  What techniques have you employed to limit the impact of work-based social media on your company?

As usual your ideas and feedback are encouraged via the comment mechanism below.

Other Resources:

Another good resource when creating your Social Media policy is  "Ten things you should cover in your social networking policy"

-- Rick Wanner - rwanner at isc dot sans dot org - - Twitter:namedeplume (Protected)

2 comment(s)


What kind of effect would a Attribution Market have on the current real world situation? How willing would parties be to reveal intelligence on cyber actors if they were paid? How disruptive would revelation of HIGH profile attacks be, and revelation of the actors behind HOLY SHEET attacks be that the public had no clue about?


No actor can effectively pursue a mission when he has been turned into a Paris Hilton...

No nation likes its dirty acts revealed to the light of the world..

No nation likes to be Shamed for shoddy ass kindergarden OPSEC.

Silly Dragons, Cybers for Ninjas.
Are we aware of this:

Former participants of Swiss Cyber Storm 2 have convered the LiveHttpHeader firefox plug-in into an observation plugin (2009). However - the wargame observation plugin wargame seems to be obsolete - because Toorcon showed up with Freesheep - a similar approach to steal web sessions - even in Social Media!

Watch out for malicious firefox plugions

Have a safe day

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