While businesses continue to expand their use of social networking to manage their brands and increase productivity, only a minority of firms are attempting to offset the risks posed by these services.

The lack of focus on securing social networking is leaving companies vulnerable, say security experts. Only 18 percent of companies do a risk assessment of their use of social media, even though 84 percent worry about the risks, according to a recent survey.

Monitoring is an important part of detecting and responding to the business risks posed by social networks, says Bob Shaw, senior vice president for network-monitoring firm Net Optics, an Ixia company. Companies should monitor what customers are saying about their brands and what employees post under their corporate personas. "There are no spots of the network that companies can leave as blind spots now," says Shaw. "Businesses have to have visibility across their network and applications, including social media."

Social networks pose three main threats. Because a business' online presence and brand heavily rely on public postings, poor judgment on the part of employees or malicious postings by hacktivists or attackers can sully a company's image. In addition, social networks are also a vector through which attackers can deliver attacks to specific employees. Finally, the networks also pose a data leakage risk, where workers can inadvertently or maliciously leak sensitive information about the company or themselves.

A good first step for most companies is to monitor social networks to gather information on the possible issues facing them and what the threats might be, says Caleb Barlow, director of security for IBM.

"If you are not monitoring both what your employees are saying and what your customers are saying, you run the risk of having your company debated and not having a seat at the table when that happens," he says. Monitoring public posts to social networks can also help catch compromises of social networking accounts, albeit after the thief has caused problems. Read full story on Dark Reading

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