Most Corporations Will Spy On Employees By 2015: Research
Social networks will be monitored to prevent IT security risks
The majority of corporations are expected to monitor their employees’ social media interaction by 2015, suggests research by Gartner, published today.
This practice could be increasingly adopted to prevent security breaches and incidents. However, there are problems with this approach, since increased surveillance may be seen as a violation of legislation, regulations, policies or cultural expectations.
I spy with my huge corporate eye
In the next three years, 60 percent of major corporations could adopt formal policies to watch the behaviour of their employees online, says Gartner. Many organisations already engage in social media monitoring as part of their marketing efforts, but less than 10 percent currently use these same techniques to prevent security risks.
“The growth in monitoring employee behaviour in digital environments is increasingly enabled by new technology and services,” said Andrew Walls, research vice president of Gartner. “Surveillance of individuals, however, can both mitigate and create risk, which must be managed carefully to comply with ethical and legal standards.”
IT security organisations have traditionally focused their attention on the monitoring of internal infrastructure. Yet the security landscape has changed rapidly in the past few years, and the impact of IT consumerisation, cloud services and social media means that today, securing the perimeter of the corporate network is simply not possible.
This echoes recent findings by enterprise IT security specialists AlienVault, according to which 71 percent of IT professionals consider their own staff to pose bigger threat to their data than hackers (28%) or consultants and other third parties (7%).
At the same time, Gartner warns that surveillance of user activity outside of the company network generates additional ethical and legal risks. For example, a manager reviewing an employee’s Facebook profile to determine their religion or sexual orientation would be in violation of equal employment opportunity and privacy regulations.
“The conflicts involved were highlighted through recent examples of a small number of organizations requesting Facebook login information from job candidates,” said Walls. “Although that particular practice will gradually fade, employers will continue to pursue greater visibility of social media conversations held by employees, customers and the general public when the topics are of interest to the corporation.”
Automated, covert monitoring of computer use by staff suspected of serious policy violations can produce hard evidence of inappropriate or illegal behaviours. But if the employees are aware of the monitoring, it could even serve as a deterrent for illicit activities. However, there are still some important issues that need to be addressed before the monitoring practice becomes widespread, in order to avoid violating privacy laws.
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