Social networks are useful in understanding security risks: Gartner

Analyst recommends businesses embrace the lessons from social media instead of avoiding them

Keeping people from social media is like keeping people from breathing, according to Gartner research director, Rob McMillan.

McMillan made the comparison at the Gartner Security Summit in Sydney, where he highlighted the importance of embracing social media from a security perspective instead of shying away from it.

“Social is the most popular form of Cloud service on the planet,” he said.

“Blocking access just encourages people to overcome security controls.”

By opening up to social media, McMillan said it helps companies “learn new tricks.”

“We have to understand how social works and develop capabilities in monitoring, data analysis, mitigation and remediation,” he said.

Another useful outcome from embracing social media is that it forces IT professionals to consider employees and customers as part of the broad security team.

However, McMillan warns that all of this cannot be managed “just by buying more technology.”

“The social risk is not just about social media, and we’ve already seen many companies affected by social risk events,” he said.

The big picture

Beyond the social media discussion is big data, which McMillan said can enable true context aware security risk management.

While there are numerous tools that can help a business to take advantage of big data, he warns that the work does not stop there.

“All of the data and analysis in the world won’t help if you do not know how to use the results to identify flaws in emerging risks,” he said.

Patrick Budmar covers consumer and enterprise technology breaking news for IDG Communications. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @patrick_budmar.

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