We are part of a fast moving landscape where business time undeniably overlaps with leisure time. As more and more people are connected across different channels using a myriad of new devices and networks to work at home, in the office and on the move, the risks of data, content and identity getting into the wrong hands are rising dramatically. Research has shown that 59% believe that current levels of social media use in the workplace increase the risk of information leaks, and 55% of UK employers are concerned about email viruses and other email security breaches.

It’s clear that employers want their online activity to be safer, but what can businesses do to safeguard their assets online and on social media platforms?

Liz Turner, Director at Waytime Technologies, offers her Top Tips on how to keep your IT systems and network safe whilst enabling your staff to adopt safe practices across Social Media and other online activities with whatever device they are bringing to work.

Tip 1: Defend your server. This can be easily done with a combination of anti-virus packages, anti-spam filters, anti-spyware protection, a firewall and a backup system of some kind.

Tip 2: Upgrade your protection software and keep your operating systems and browsers up to date. As there are hundreds of new viruses created every day, you will need to upgrade regularly for new remedies and protection. Your operating system will have new patches that will need installing as well. Keeping on top of this will reduce risks considerably.

Tip 3: Ensure that your networks are protected through strong passwords – at least 8 characters with a mixture of upper/lower case letters, numbers and special characters. Have a policy to change passwords regularly and not to use the same passwords across your business. Most importantly – keep passwords safe. Remember that access to networks can be limited to certain groups of users as well.

Tip 4: Have a comprehensive IT training policy for all staff which is part of your induction programme. Training should cover all company workplace technologies, how to and use mobile phones, tablets etc at work, and should include such things as how to be aware ‘phishing’ attacks, what to do if a virus does get onto a computer and who to escalate serious data security issues to. Get advice from your IT provider if you are in any doubt.

Tip 5: Write a Social Media Policy – it should outline what constitutes accepted behaviour and what will happen following abuse of the system. This will also ensure that your company complies with relevant laws/acts for individuals and businesses (i.e. Data privacy, IP, Confidentiality, Copyright infringement, Advertising Standards etc) and it should clearly show examples of bad and good practice.

Tip 6: Guide your staff through Social Media Usage regularly and spell things out clearly using practical examples. Don’t assume that people will remember what the rules are. Depending on your business, you might want to cover the below:

  • Which sites can be accessed using your corporate network (and which are no go areas). And how to check (payment) sites are secured i.e. https, padlocks etc
  • The acceptable time for staff using social networks at work for personal reasons
  • Which email addresses staff should use when signing up for social networking sites. It pays to make a clear division between personal or business usage
  • The risks of viruses/spam when clicking links received from friends on social networking sites
  • The risks of accepting people as friends (there are lots of fake profiles out there) and how to use settings and options to block people seeing information about you
  • The risks of revealing info about your company, colleagues and competitors on social networking sites
  • Social Media etiquette and how to write corporate content