McAfee Reference Architecture: Securely Enabling Social Media

Social media platforms have become ubiquitous in recent years, not only because connections are easy to make and conversations are rapid and short – but there is also the universal thrill of finding a great piece of content and sharing it with hundreds of thousands of online followers. This is especially true when that information is somehow inflammatory, or not originally intended to be shared in a public forum.

This ability to quickly share private or sensitive information is one of the biggest fears for companies engaging in social media. While they of course want to harness the excitement of online social platforms to increase customer engagement, as well as branding and marketing goals, many shy away because they lack a formal plan on how to mitigate risk.

In the past, the model for dealing with unauthorized information or data leaks focused on containment. You determined who had access, how many views the leaked data had, and figured out how to pull back that data or release a sanitized version to shine above the unauthorized content. With social media, containment is not an option, and this model falls apart. It is just too easy for juicy pieces of information to go viral, at the speed of a thousand fingers clicking a button. Still, companies are continuing to integrate social media at an increasing rate. According to a global McKinsey survey conducted in December 2011, over 45% of respondents have already selected deployment pilots or have fully scaled to date using online social platforms.

So, what security controls are available to businesses to help minimize social media snafus? McAfee has solutions that can put IT at ease and make sure that confidential information stays confidential. These solutions can even implement on-the-fly content protection based on policy and keyword analysis, or block posts to specific social media sites. One of the more interesting features is their ability to set policy on an individual system for data loss prevention, which allows organizations to be protected even when an employee is, say, working off the corporate network at a local coffee shop.

Technology aside, setting corporate policy and educating employees about responsible use of social media is elemental in ensuring success, and should be seen as a necessary component of a comprehensive risk mitigation plan that includes technology solutions that block blatant challenges to corporate information policy.

Take a look at McAfee’s reference architecture for more information on how McAfee can help protect your information as well as other aspects of your environment with a cost effective and holistic security framework.

-Kim Singletary

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