How To Help Your Customers Avoid the Security Pitfalls of Social Networking


Social networking platforms, such as Facebook, are great venues to get news about about your customers' companies and services. They are also a terrific vehicle to drive buzz about new products and for collecting customer feedback. But they can also pose serious a security risks. Here, Randy Cochran of Symantec explains how to educate your clients about that risk.

Your customers want to use social networking as a business tool and in many ways it can increase their efficiency on the job by enabling them to connect and communicate more easily. However, using social networks also increases a company’s exposure to risk.

Symantec recently asked more than 3,000 workers in North America and Europe about the risk they take with information at work. While 63 percent of respondents said they use social networking, only 50 percent of those surveyed acknowledged that social networking sites pose a potential security risk to their company.

When your customers access social networking sites from a corporate network, they can expose themselves and their own customers to significant security risks. Cybercriminals are using social networks to spread viruses, perpetrate online fraud and distribute spam and phishing e-mails. The data in our recently released Internet Security Threat Report revealed that social networks are being used to increase the success rate of malware attacks, namely through the use of shortened URLs. The study found that 73 percent of malicious shortened URLs observed by Symantec were clicked on 11 times or more.

Awareness and the right security solutions are the best defenses in fighting against the common tactics cybercriminals are using to exploit users. You have a great opportunity to educate your customers on the threats that are out there and how they can protect their information from social media threats including malicious links in messages, phishing, fake friending and exploiting user information.

The following are basic tips to avoid social networking scams:

• Do not submit personal information to unknown Web sites.

• Do not click on suspicious links in e-mail messages.

• Most social networking websites now allow applications, groups, etc. to be blocked and/or reported. Use these options to deny requests from unwanted applications.

• Frequently update your security software, which protects you from potential online scams.

The threats associated with social media may seem a bit daunting, but they don’t have to be. It all comes down to educating your customers -- helping them gain knowledge about the threats that are out there, and how they can avoid losing their proprietary information to savvy cybercriminals while leveraging the benefits of social networking.