So when security experts advise staying away from social networking sites, I wince a little. It's a new terrain of customer outreach these days and it's one that requires you to interact -- whether it's with the buyer who needs to sign off on the purchase order or with the mom who you want to stock up on your product. Harnessing the power of social networks to extend your business reach - no matter how small your budget or how specialized your product - is an expensive marketing move that can pay big dividends.
What can you do to keep your network secure while you are social networking?
1. Have the right layers of security - A strong gateway security product is key to protecting a network from the potential for attacks and malware, says Jeremy Weiss, a network security specialist with CDW Healthcare. A proxy server, Web 2.0 and Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) -aware products are also important, he notes, since their constant scans will catch malware as it comes in.
2. Be wary of content - This past week, I received two Facebook messages from a former colleague of mine. Both were titled "Help!" and both included a shortened URL link. Knowing that the messages were way out of character, I deleted them immediately. But what happens when you are getting slightly suspicious messages from people who you don't know (because face it: when your business is on the web, it's bound to happen)? This is why you need to be careful about clicking on anything at all. "Do not trust any website - even the one you create," says Inno Eroraha of NetSecurity Corporation. "Don't trust any video you watch - some of them would do something bad in the background while you are enjoying the video - it is doing things like compromising your personal data or planting a Trojan horse on the system. Be careful what links you click and what video you watch." Make sure that the people in your organization who are doing the social networking know to be wary.
3. All departments need to work together - It's easy for one hand not to know what the other is doing in business. But when it comes to the security of a network this shouldn't happen. IT and the people who are handling social media for the company need to work together to ensure that the integrity of the business is maintained at all times. One good way to do this is to have a training where IT can explain tactics for ensuring that passwords, websites and more are always protected -- no matter what corner of the web you are on.