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Why employers shouldn’t block but manage social media usage|Web Security

Posted by Geraldine Hunt on Tue, Jul 10th, 2012

Implementing a social media usage policy can protect an employer from social media or internet misuse. Very few office based workers don’t use a social network of some kind, it's clear that social networking isn’t going away anytime soon. Social media was originally intended as a way for people to connect socially online, it's now a big part of business as well. The continued growth of workplace social networking presents management with a problem - how can employers ensure employees are focused on work and not spending all day checking their Facebook updates or searching for old friends online?

A recent survey from law firm Proskauer Rose  reported that  

  • 43.4 % of respondants said social media network misuse has been an issue for them
  • 31.3 % said they have had to take disciplinary action against an employee because of social medua misuse
  • Only 55 % of the companys surveyed had an internet / social media usage policy in place

Both employers and human resources professionals acknowledge that social media is a valuable business tool as well as a valuable personal communication tool. For many companys it is clear that what social media offers with one hand it can take away with the other. On the one hand, it opens up new and powerful ways to engage with a company’s customer base.  On the other hand, it can expose business to security threats and reduced network productivity. Small business owners should take a close look at their IT and social media strategies, and establish policies now so that they harness the best of social media without downside – or downtime.

So what can employers do to protect themselves from social media misuse?

Web Security Technology

Many companies use web filtering solutions to block websites with inappropriate content, such as pornography and gambling sites. For companys there is always a temptation to block all social media sites in the same way. Even web security vendors would not support such a drastic policy. Social media is now an intrinsic part of business, blocking access to those sites would inhibit the employer's ability to use social media in achieving business goals.

It is important that you choose the web filtering solution that is right for your organisation’s needs. By working with IT, HR can help guide the company to safe internet use that is controlled but not blanket banned and where the organisation can safely embrace and reap the benefits of business Web 2.0 tools. The IT department can help greatly by employing a web filtering solution that is flexible, role based and  provides the data on usage if a problem related to misuse should arise. Companies need to get to a point where they are managing employee behaviour at the individual level.

Internet usage Policy

An internet usage policy is now a serious requirement for businesses. Importantly, not all internet policies should be the same: each should be tailored to the organisation’s particular requirements so that clear, realistic and company appropriate guidelines are in place.

As well as the issue of time wasting on the internet, the risk of employees accessing infected sites of spreading malware, viruses and botnet infections across the network is widespread.  Cybercriminals wanting access to company network and data are not interested in the size of the company so all sizes are at risk however, being prepared is the best defence to tackle these problems.

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