Story image

OPINON: Counting the broader cost of Facebook’s data dilemma

05 Apr 2018

Article by Barracuda International senior vice president Chris Ross

As the news agenda continues to be dominated by the fallout from claims that millions of Facebook profiles were apparently exploited for political purposes, we wanted to see whether this story was changing the way that businesses thought about how their staff used technology. At the recent Cloud Expo Europe show in London, we conducted a survey of more than 350 attendees to find out.

We started by trying to understand whether the news had prompted members of the IT industry to change their relationship with Facebook. It was no surprise to hear that 55 percent of respondents trusted Facebook less as a result. This lack of trust was shown in the fact that 12 percent had deleted their account since the news broke and another 29 percent had taken measures to amend their security and sharing settings. On a personal level, people had definitely had their eyes opened to data privacy, sharing and security issues.

So what does this mean for businesses?

Of those that allow access to Facebook through the corporate network, almost half (46 percent) said that they were planning to educate staff on how they can protect themselves and their data. Some, around 8 percent, said that they were taking more drastic steps and blacklisting the social network altogether, whilst 7 percent were going to more tightly control which staff had access.

Whilst it’s perhaps no surprise to learn that use of Facebook both inside and outside the workplace would be affected, this story certainly appears to have had a broader impact. Almost two thirds of respondents (62 percent) said that this news had led them to review their corporate policy for allowing user access to non-business related sites and apps - whether that was with a view to providing new guidance or restricting access. Only 20 percent planned to maintain a policy to allow free access to non-business sites and apps.

Will this make any difference?

While restricting access to non-business apps from the workplace can improve productivity, it may not impact Facebook's ability to collect and share the personal information of users.

However, these privacy concerns have raised some strong feelings in the business community around Facebook’s viability as a business tool. Our recommendation is that organisations that continue to leverage Facebook as a business platform should review some basic controls such as:

  • Consider who is allowed to share data. For example, create policies so only certain authorised groups can post to the corporate Facebook account.
  • Be aware of attempts to leverage information that is available in your company's social profile. For example, spear phishing to target execs, exfiltrate data, steal credentials.
  • Train your users to recognise such attempts and take appropriate action.

While the longer-term effect on Facebook’s reputation remains to be seen, we expect to see organisations making decisions about whether the platform poses a security risk and how to minimise the threat on those occasions where an alternative option just doesn’t exist.

The attack surface: 2019's biggest security threat
As businesses expand, so does their attack surface – and that may be the biggest cybersecurity risk of them all, according to Aon’s 2019 Cyber Security Risk Report.
Opinion: Cybersecurity as a service answer to urgent change
Alan Calder believes a CSaaS model can enable a company to build a cyber resilience strategy in a coherent and consistent manner.
New threat rears its head in new malware report
Check Point’s researchers view Speakup as a significant threat, as it can be used to download and spread any malware.
Oracle updates enterprise blockchain platform
Oracle’s enterprise blockchain has been updated to include more capabilities to enhance development, integration, and deployment of customers’ new blockchain applications.
Used device market held back by lack of data security regulations
Mobile device users are sceptical about trading in their old device because they are concerned that data on those devices may be accessed or compromised after they hand it over.
Gartner names ExtraHop leader in network performance monitoring
ExtraHop provides enterprise cyber analytics that deliver security and performance from the inside out.
Symantec acquires zero trust innovator Luminate Security
Luminate’s Secure Access Cloud is supposedly natively constructed for a cloud-oriented, perimeter-less world.
Palo Alto releases new, feature-rich firewall
Palo Alto is calling it the ‘fastest-ever next-generation firewall’ with integrated cloud-based DNS Security service to stop attacks.