Not Your Father’s Social Network Risks?

You might remember the commercial that said, “This isn’t your father’s Oldsmobile,” meaning this car is nothing like the one your father drives. It’s faster, more luxurious, more YOU.

Have you noticed that the opposite is true regarding the hype over social networking and the risk it brings to your business and a computer near you? In other words, to quote an old king, “There is nothing new under the sun.”

The risks that social networking tools brings to your network and your productivity are not new, they are just a new way of delivering the old risks. Twitter, Facebook, Google Buzz, LinkedIn, and websites in general are more snazzy and fun to use than snail mail, the telephone, and email, but not a whole lot has changed, just the shiny bells and buttons used to trick you.

In the good old days, you were told not to discuss confidential business matters in the bathroom, elevator, hallway, or at lunch, as you never know who was listening. Today you’re told not to post details of the latest project or marketing scheme that you’re developing on LinkedIn, or tweet about it.

In the past you were cautioned not to fall for every sad story or too-good-to-be true offer you received in the mail or over the phone or read in a newspaper. Today you’re told not to believe every urban legend email or website you read, and to be careful opening email attachments or click on email hyperlinks. You’re told not to fail for Nigerian money schemes and to be careful where we donate money online after a natural disaster occurs. You’re warned not to give out personal information over the phone unless we make the first contact (see If Called, Don’t Answer).

From childhood, you were told to choose your friends carefully. Today you’re reminded to be careful who you accept as friends or connections on Facebook and LinkedIn, as people are using personal information on these websites to better target you with a phishing email.

No one would confuse an Oldsmobile with a smart car, but they’re still both cars. And if you look under the hood, the threats haven’t changed that much either.

If people are trained in basic security awareness principles, no matter what whiz-bang technology or applications come along, they will be better equipped to make good choices and avoid putting themselves and their enterprises at risk. Focus on the basics and enjoy the sunshine.


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