German firms ban FaceBook at work

A number of top German companies are uniting to ban social networking sites FaceBook and Twitter from the work space. The ban has been driven by fears of industrial espionage and the threat of competitors obtaining company information via the internet links.

The German firms include VW and Porsche, leaders in research and development in the motor industry, who have poured millions into improving manufacturing techniques and better materials. The firms are concerned that they may lose their technological edge – plus the time and millions of Euros – to overseas competitors.

Recent security reviews have indicated that the social networking sites are potential leakage points for company information and Intellectual Property. As improved email filters and patches for web browsers are implemented, hackers must look for other gateways to snatch snippets of information that can build up a profile to either mount an identity theft assault or else construct a network map of the system.

Often, hackers are seeking to exploit security failures within the social networking formats to access restricted information. By hijacking accounts they can seek to unleash Trojans on other computers and download useful information.

Another reason for viewing social networking sites as weak points in the security shield of a network is that employees can inadvertently disclose information which may be of use to an outsider. Mentioning product launch dates, test areas or product names can all be pieced together by an entity using competitive intelligence and create a portrait of which direction the company is moving.

And besides, German bosses didn’t like the idea of their workers slacking on the job and watching YouTube or updating FaceBook.

But this can cut both ways. In August a law was proposed which would restrict employers from trawling information on prospective job candidates from their postings on social networking sites to protect the privacy of the employee.

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