social network security and user education

It’s not really that often that I think user education is a solution (or close to it), as I think it is just a small sliver of a security posture in a company. One such situation is policing social networking for an organization.

I’m listening to Exotic Liability 37 and Ryan and Chris are having a great discussion on what organizations should do about social networking. I agree that companies need to have policies on social networking, but I’m sympathetic to the feeling that an organization shouldn’t be reading every post that every employee makes on their personal time, or that you have to disclose what your social networking identities are. That seems to be a huge effort for very little gain, especially as most people never post anything to do with the organization.

I agree that anything about the company should be addressed, and anything where someone may be miscontrued as speaking for the organization should be curbed. That should be done by policy and user education. As should any unauthorized use on business time when explicitly prohibited. Or maybe something like an exec making a comment on visiting Smegma, Florida, and someone knowing that a potentially bought acquired company is HQed there which could divulge big information.

But I’m not sure I can say employers should be inventorying your identities online and examining every post you make. Considering how much crap is posted to so many places compared to how much would actually damage a company, it seems like a waste of resources to watch it.

I like when the EL guys barely touched on the idea of following developers. That is one place where you really could get some information, for instance code snippets posted to a help forum. The problems here, though, are similar. How many thousands of such sites exist? And how often would those snippets and tidbits actually be useful?

I guess it all depends on the company and what their interest is in protecting information. Defense contractors, game companies, and Apple would be far different than a small business in Wichita that only serves local customers. I think a policy is necessary, user education is necessary (tailored to the level of employee), and some measure of monitoring for references to your company may be necessary. But I’m not sure monitoring individuals will offer good return for most cases.