Business Information at Risk, According to Social Media Risks Survey

Global security, storage and systems management solutions provider Symantec has released findings from its 2011 Social Media Protection Flash Poll, which examined how organizations use social networking sites, such as Facebook, Twitter and other online forums, to protect themselves from negative consequences. The survey, which was conducted in April 2011, surveyed IT and C-level professionals responsible for computers, networks and technology resources at small, medium, and large enterprises.

The poll revealed that social media is pervasive within business enterprises, and IT departments have good reason to be worried. The “typical” enterprise experienced nine social media incidents over the past year, including employees posting confidential information publicly, with 94% suffering negative consequences such as damage to their reputations, loss of customer trust, data loss and lost revenue.

“Businesses know how important it is to protect and preserve e-mail, IM, spreadsheets and other unstructured information. Now they need to recognize that information flowing through social networks is equally important,” said Greg Muscarella, senior director of product management for Symantec’s Information Management Group. “Symantec enables businesses to continue to access and share information through social networks while capturing and preserving the information for legal and compliance purposes.”

The Symantec survey revealed that 82% of enterprises are at least discussing implementing archiving solutions to collect, preserve and discover sensitive business data transmitted through social media, along with other measures such as establishing social media usage policies and employee training programs. Unfortunately, less than one-fourth of respondents have actually implemented these technologies and policies.

According to the survey, the top three social media incidents the typical enterprise experienced over the past year were:

  1. Employees sharing too much information in public forums (46%)
  2. The loss or exposure of confidential information (41%)
  3. Increased exposure to litigation (37%)

More than 90% of respondents experiencing a social media incident also suffered negative consequences as a result, including:

  • Reduced stock price (average cost: US$1,038,401)
  • Litigation costs (average cost: US$650,361)
  • Direct financial costs (average cost: US$641,993)
  • Damaged brand reputation/loss of customer trust (average cost: US$638,496)
  • Cost revenue (average cost: US$619,360)

Symantec offers the following recommendations to organizations for maximum intellectual property protection:

  • Define how to use social media and train employees regarding appropriate content to post.
  • Identify, understand, and implement policies pertaining to legal or regulatory requirements specific to your industry.
  • Consider deploying an archiving solution that enables the automatic capture and retention of social media content.
  • Implement a data loss prevention solution to provide another layer of protection.

For more information about Symantec’s 2011 Social Media Protection Flash Poll, visit: