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Social media 'incidents' cost firms US$4 million

Veronica C. Silva | Aug. 12, 2011
Use of social media should form part of company policy, suggests Symantec.

Yes, social media is "in" in the enterprises as they are seen as part of the digital media marketing mix of most firms. Unfortunately, firms that do not consider protecting their social media infrastructure are also "in" for a big surprise as "incidents" in using social media can cost them.

According to an industry study by security experts Symantec, a "typical enterprise" had as much as nine "social media incidents" over the past year and 94 per cent of these incidents have resulted in negative consequences, such as damage to reputation, loss of customer trust, data lost and lost revenue. The cost of these incidents: US$4.3 million.

The results came from Symantec's Social Media Flash Poll, which included responses from more than 1,000 enterprises worldwide across industries.

The study showed that 42 percent of enterprises polled use social media for business purposes while 45 percent use social media for personal reasons.

IT concerns

Yet, the IT department has expressed concerns about social media use in the workplace. These concerns include risks, such as malware and loss/exposure of confidential information, and compliance. 

The top three social media incidents that enterprises have experienced in the last year include:

- employees sharing too much information in public forums (46 per cent)

- loss or exposure of confidential information (41 per cent), and

- Increased exposure to litigation (37 per cent).

To avoid problems related to the use of social media, Symantec recommends that its use in the enterprise be defined and that employees be trained on what content to post.

It would also do companies good if they understand the industry-specific legal or regulatory environment within which they operate, and to craft appropriate guidelines on social media use.

On the technical side, companies can use an archiving solution to document social media content, and a data loss prevention solution as another layer of protection.

"Businesses know how important it is to protect and preserve e-mail, IM, spreadsheets and other unstructured information. Now they need to recognise that information flowing through social networks is equally important," said Michael Chue, managing director, Symantec Hong Kong. "Symantec enables businesses to continue to access and share information through social networks while capturing and preserving the information for legal and compliance purposes."


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