Report Predicts Huge Hike in Employers Monitoring Social Media

In addition to watching what you say at the office, you may want to be extra careful what you post about work on blogs, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

This admonishment is not new, but a Gartner report predicts up to 60 percent of corporations worldwide will monitor employees’ social media use for security breaches within the next three years. Currently, only 10 percent of companies keep tabs on what employees say about them online and its mainly as reputation, rather than risk, management.

In addition to watching what you say at the office, you may want to be extra careful what you post about work on blogs, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

This admonishment is not new, but a Gartner report predicts up to 60 percent of corporations worldwide will monitor employees’ social media use for security breaches within the next three years. Currently, only 10 percent of companies keep tabs on what employees say about them online and its mainly as reputation, rather than risk, management.

“The growth in monitoring employee behavior in digital environments is increasingly enabled by new technology and services,” said Andrew Walls, research vice president of Gartner, in a news release. “Surveillance of individuals, however, can both mitigate and create risk, which must be managed carefully to comply with ethical and legal standards.”

That legal landscape may become even more difficult to navigate as states weigh whether to limit what employers can ask of their workforce. For instance, last week the California State Senate approved a bill 25-8 that would prevent employers in California from formally requesting employees or job applicants provide their social media usernames and passwords. The bill, introduced by Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Mateo) now goes before the Assembly. Lee said he introduced the bill after hearing of instances in which businesses and colleges demanded such information, which he considered “an unacceptable invasion of privacy.”

The Gartner prediction shows a departure from current employee monitoring focused primarily on brand management to potential security breaches.

“Given that employees with legitimate access to enterprise information assets are involved in most security violations, security monitoring must focus on employee actions and behavior wherever the employees pursue business-related interactions on digital systems,” Walls said. “In other words, the development of effective security intelligence and control depends on the ability to capture and analyze user actions that take place inside and outside of the enterprise IT environment.”

Many companies have in recent years embraced social media to both market to and monitor conversations among customers. Public relations firms now offer such conversation monitoring as a service. At the same time, the rise of cloud services and niche social networks have made such tracking more difficult. But Gartner predicts more enterprises will invest in surveillance tools to ensure employees and contractors do not divulge too much about an organization’s inner workings while on or off the clock.

They must be careful, however, to focus on employee behavior that puts the business at risk. The discovery of personal details, such as an employee’s race or sexual orientation, could put the organization itself at risk for  discrimination claims and equal employment opportunity violations.

“The problem lies in the ability of surveillance tools and methods to produce large volumes of irrelevant information. This personal information can be exposed accidentally or become the target of voyeuristic behavior by security staff.”

 

 

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