Dare We Call It Social Security?


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In the event y’all don’t read ZDNet, I’d like to direct you to a report by security firm Sophos about the rise of malware on social networks. Basically speaking, the state of computer security in the social world is 70 percent worse than it was a year ago. According to the report, 57 percent of users surveyed in December 2009 reported being spammed on social networking sites, while 36 percent said they had been sent malware via one or more social channels; both represent a 70 percent increase from April of that year.

I recommend reading the entire report, though it’s not a happy story. We can expect security threats to increase, and there’s no particularly good news in the entire document, but at least there are some suggestions for how to mitigate the dangers. Meanwhile, 72 percent of businesses surveyed indicate concern that employee activities on social networking sites puts company data at risk, and the majority name Facebook as their biggest single source of worry. Yet 49 percent allow unrestricted employee access to Facebook, up 13percent from last year.

My intent here is not to scare people away from social networks—career suicide for me—but to make them aware that security issues do exist. Social CRM is still fairly new, and it can be hard sometimes to tell the difference between a poorly executed marketing campaign and a phishing scam. It’s up to users, developers, and businesses to keep an eye on their activities as best they can, while security professionals work to plug holes in social coding. Let’s be careful out there.

While we’re talking about social networks, security, and ZDNet, I’d like to shine a light on a recent post by the inimitable Paul Greenberg about his recent security breach on Facebook. (Wow, this is a bad week for Marc Zuckerberg, huh?) Let it serve as a reminder that businesses shouldn’t forget the human side of their activities while dealing with computer security; making it difficult for legit users to reinstate their privileges after being hacked doesn’t make things harder for the hackers, but it does make it harder for users to want to come back.

One final note: I’ll be in Herndon, VA next week (February 8-9) attending Paul Greenberg’s seminar on social CRM. Look me up if you’re there, but make sure you pay most of your attention to Paul—he’s got some great advice.


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