Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Analytics //

Security Monitoring

12/14/2013
10:27 AM
50%
50%

Protecting Brand And Data While Staying Social

Despite worries about social media, most companies are not monitoring it for threats

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.

While many companies are worried about the leakage of trade secrets or business data, they should also worry about the leakage of personal information about their employees, says Barlow. More than two-third of people share their birthdays online, and almost half reveal their hometowns, he says.

"You start taking all this information, and these are typically the challenge-response questions that protect many types of accounts," Barlow says.

[Phishers favor emails that appear to be from LinkedIn friends or email systems, study says. See Study: Beware LinkedIn Invitations, Mail Delivery Messages.]

Yet the posting of proprietary data to social networking sites is perhaps the greater dangers, says Adam Ghetti, founder and chief technology officer of Ionic Security, which protects data in the cloud. And because they allow people to connect and share information, file-sharing services such as Box and Dropbox are another form of social networking that needs to be watched. When employees post information to those sites, they are adding a social aspect to the problem of data security, he says.

"They have made the data itself social because they have uploaded it to a service where it is out of the view and control of the enterprise," says Ghetti.

Companies need to take a multilayer approach to defending against leaks to social networks and threats coming in from the networks, Ghetti says. Network-based monitoring is not enough because cloud providers are increasingly using SSL to protect communications between the end user and their servers, which makes it difficult for network-only monitoring to inspect the content going to those social networks. Ghetti argues that companies have to take a data-centric approach to protect sensitive information no matter where it goes.

"Monitoring has to happen well before content gets to a social-media destination," says Ghetti. "That monitoring has to take place in a clearly defined way so that it is not intrusive to the end user, it is not violating their privacy or personal life, but it is under the scrutiny of the enterprise when it is in a business context."

Finally, all the security measures should not add extra steps to employees' work processes. Doing so only makes it more likely that the workers will try to work around the security, says Ionic's Ghetti.

"Most circumvention is not maliciously intended -- it's purely just so that users can get their jobs done," he says. "The security process in place is too high-friction, so they go around it, and in doing so, they are leaking information."

Monitoring can give companies visibility while not getting in the way of business, he says.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Add Your Comment" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message. Veteran technology journalist of more than 20 years. Former research engineer. Written for more than two dozen publications, including CNET News.com, Dark Reading, MIT's Technology Review, Popular Science, and Wired News. Five awards for journalism, including Best Deadline ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 9/21/2020
Cybersecurity Bounces Back, but Talent Still Absent
Simone Petrella, Chief Executive Officer, CyberVista,  9/16/2020
Meet the Computer Scientist Who Helped Push for Paper Ballots
Kelly Jackson Higgins, Executive Editor at Dark Reading,  9/16/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Latest Comment: Exactly
Current Issue
Special Report: Computing's New Normal
This special report examines how IT security organizations have adapted to the "new normal" of computing and what the long-term effects will be. Read it and get a unique set of perspectives on issues ranging from new threats & vulnerabilities as a result of remote working to how enterprise security strategy will be affected long term.
Flash Poll
How IT Security Organizations are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
How IT Security Organizations are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
The COVID-19 pandemic turned the world -- and enterprise computing -- on end. Here's a look at how cybersecurity teams are retrenching their defense strategies, rebuilding their teams, and selecting new technologies to stop the oncoming rise of online attacks.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-4643
PUBLISHED: 2020-09-21
IBM WebSphere Application Server 7.0, 8.0, 8.5, and 9.0 is vulnerable to an XML External Entity Injection (XXE) attack when processing XML data. A remote attacker could exploit this vulnerability to expose sensitive information. IBM X-Force ID: 185590.
CVE-2020-4590
PUBLISHED: 2020-09-21
IBM WebSphere Application Server Liberty 17.0.0.3 through 20.0.0.9 running oauth-2.0 or openidConnectServer-1.0 server features is vulnerable to a denial of service attack conducted by an authenticated client. IBM X-Force ID: 184650.
CVE-2020-4731
PUBLISHED: 2020-09-21
IBM Aspera Web Application 1.9.14 PL1 is vulnerable to cross-site scripting. This vulnerability allows users to embed arbitrary JavaScript code in the Web UI thus altering the intended functionality potentially leading to credentials disclosure within a trusted session. IBM X-Force ID: 188055.
CVE-2020-4315
PUBLISHED: 2020-09-21
IBM Business Automation Content Analyzer on Cloud 1.0 does not set the secure attribute on authorization tokens or session cookies. Attackers may be able to get the cookie values by sending a http:// link to a user or by planting this link in a site the user goes to. The cookie will be sent to the i...
CVE-2020-4579
PUBLISHED: 2020-09-21
IBM DataPower Gateway 2018.4.1.0 through 2018.4.1.12 could allow a remote attacker to cause a denial of service by sending a specially crafted HTTP/2 request with invalid characters. IBM X-Force ID: 184438.