SpamTitan’s Q1 2010 audit of 200 SMBs worldwide revealed that while almost all allowed Internet access and some social networking applications in the workplace almost half (49 per cent) admitted they had not taken even basic steps towards a social media policy such as deploying a Web filter.
Many SMBs are now truly embracing social networking applications by adopted them within their overall marketing strategies. But it is almost impossible to track who owns this data as social data content is aggregated from site to site.
“As business embraces social networking as a way to propagate messages and build their brands the line dividing personal and company data is becoming increasingly blurred,” said Alastair Purdy, partner at Purdy FitzGerald Solicitors. “The important thing is to take steps to protect yourself or your company as much as possible in advance. Failure to do so will potentially leave the SMB sector with significant legal issues over data ownership.”
The legal position is at a very early stage of development. This is illustrated in a recent case involving the UK arm of a US business to business media publishing group (PennWell Publishing v Ornstein (2007 EWHC)) ruled that the employer owned the outlook contacts of a former journalist employee even though this list contained both work and personal contacts some of which had been brought to the company by the employee.
This blurring between work and personal becomes even more problematic in the social networking sphere. In another recent UK case a recruitment consultant moved confidential contact information to his LinkedIn account whilst employed at Hays Recruitment. This decision was one of the first to highlight the tension between businesses encouraging employees to use social networking websites for work but then claiming that the contacts and content remain confidential information at the end of their employment.
“We are in a new era and it is time for every company to include a corporate social media policy alongside internet usage guidelines as part of their employment terms,” said Ronan Kavanagh CEO SpamTitan Technologies ‘Without a clear internet policy many employees are unaware of the implications of sharing information on sites like Linkedin and if appropriate protection is absent many employers risk being drawn into costly legal wrangles with employees as time goes on.”
“Companies need to get to a point where they are managing employee behaviour at the individual level,” continued Kavanagh. “Our WebTitan Internet filtering software for example is helping customers manage Internet usage in granular detail, thereby improving network security and reducing bandwidth demands in an easy-to-use, flexible and affordable way.”
WebTitan allows users to create and apply different policies to a limitless number of different workgroups. It is possible to create flexible policies and permissions for different individuals, groups or departments within an organisation. WebTitan has a dynamic database that is updated daily with new blacklisted sites. The categorization database along with the anti-malware protection automatically update in the background at periodic intervals set by the administrator. Featuring extensive and customizable keyword filtering and comprehensive reporting, WebTitan has minimal impact on resources so as to help companies meet the challenge of staying secure in the fast changing world of social networking as cost effectively as possible.