High networking sites' usage poses threat of info leakage

The popularity of sites such as Facebook is rising by the day, especially among youngsters. Business entities are also utilising the reach of these networking sites to promote their products and services.

"Employees, usually through inadvertent posts on social networking sites and blog sites help a competitor, in collecting corporate secrets.

"Many employees, share a bit too much about the organisation – plans, projects, products in the making, financials, organisational changes, scandals, or other sensitive information," Deloitte India's Leader (Leader, Forensic & Dispute Services) Neeta Potnis told PTI.

IT research group Gartner's Principal Business Analyst Asheesh Raina said that use of social networking sites, could result in leakage of the company's sensitive data.
Domestic network and application services provider Net4 India's COO Desi S Valli noted that to some extent, there is threat of corporate secrets being leaked to rivals through social networking sites.

"It's a lot to do with the internal policies of the organisation ... it is almost impossible to make a security policy until an event happens in a possible route of leakage. These routes are many a time very innovative, which were not predicted in advance by security policy makers," Valli added.

According to experts, users themselves might not realise the significance of corporate information they share on social networking sites.

"Many a times those sharing the information do not always realise that sharing how much their significant other is working late on top-secret project or is visiting a particular city, can provide clues on business developments to competitors," Potnis noted.

Generally, no incidence of corporate spying through social networking sites has been reported in India. However, experts feel that such incidents might never come into light.

Raina said companies need to have formal policies in place at corporates, such as 'dos and don'ts' list, regarding the use of social networking sites at workplaces.
Among other negative aspects, Valli pointed out that "too much personal information made available" on such sites could be misused by others.

Potnis said there is also the risk of identity theft and identify frauds, impersonation, harassment and stalking.

"Many photos and videos posted on the sites are morphed and misused," she added.
Apart from keeping in touch with friends, social networking sites also act as a good platform for communicating messages to a larger audience.

Raina noted that in many cases, social networking sites even help companies in recruiting talented people.

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