Do You Have a Leak?

leaking poses risks to more than just national security

Edward Snowden, the NSA leaker, illegally disclosed information about classified surveillance programs. Leaking poses risks to national security. But did you know that it also poses risks to your business?

Customer and vendor lists are some of the most important assets a business may have. But your business could be leaking this information and not even know it. Social media is the problem.

It’s fun to amass connections and friends on social networks like LinkedIn and Facebook. But people often connect on social networks without considering the potential consequences of doing so.

There is a good chance that your sales and purchasing staff connect with customers and vendors on LinkedIn. And it’s not uncommon for people working at competing companies to be connected there too. So unless your employees have taken the time to set their profile settings to hide their connections from public view, people working for your competition could look at your employees’ connections and learn who your customers and suppliers are.

It’s also more difficult to claim that your customer and vendor lists are confidential if your employees are revealing them on LinkedIn. And social networks have made it a lot easier for an employee to walk out the door with your company’s Rolodex and take it to a competitor. The employee can just have LinkedIn or Facebook access their e-mail address book (which could be your entire company’s address book) and send out invitations to connect en masse.

There are things you can do to minimize these dangers. You can establish social-media policies and enforce them. You can also implement technological solutions, like blocking social networks from accessing your corporate e-mail servers.

Social networks can be very useful. But they pose risks that businesses need to consider and reconsider on a regular basis.