May 6, 2010, 11:40 AM

Facing up to online security challenges on Facebook

New tools are emerging that ensure brand exposure on social networks doesn’t cause security problems.

As retailers build their exposure on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks, many are enlisting their employees to post information that support their brands. Now new tools are emerging that ensure such information doesn’t cause security problems even as retailers engage with dozens of social networks.

Cyveillance Inc. recently launched an Internet portal-based product, Cyveillance Social Media Management, that helps merchants manage their identities and brands on 25 of the most popular social networks including Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and LinkedIn. The portal is designed as a single access point for registering and managing company names and brands in multiple social networks.

By using Cyveillance Social Media Management, retailers can register their brands on social networks through a secure portal with access controlled by use of authorized e-mails, user names and passwords, Cyveillance says. And by being the first to register an identity or brand on social networks, companies can virtually eliminate the possibility of their identity or brand being used in a social network for fraudulent or malicious purposes, it says.

The system provides registered retailers with details about how their identities and brands are being used in social networks, plus e-mail notifications of any newly registered brands or identities related to theirs. In effect, this informs retailers of what their own employees and others are saying about the retailers.

Avivah Litan, a security technology analyst at research and advisory firm Gartner Inc., says the role of social network watchdog is a natural one for Cyveillance. “Brand monitoring and anti-phishing vendors have long scanned the web for activities that threaten security, revenue stream and reputation of their clients,” Litan says in a recent blog post. She notes that Cyveillance’s new Social Media Management monitoring service helps its clients ensure that their employees as well as others are not abusing or threatening a company’s brand, image or security. “This is a natural extension of their business—the brand monitoring firms are adept at finding all sorts of threats against their clients—whether they be trademark violations, counterfeit sales, phishing and pharming attacks, or other types of reputational assaults.

Phishing involves the criminal use of brand names in e-mail messages that lure consumers to phony web sites designed to steal credit card accounts and other confidential information; pharming involves the use of e-mail to infect consumers’ computers with malicious code designed to steal confidential information.

“Social network monitoring will be especially useful to enterprises that have policies around employee use of social networks, but have not monitored the application of those policies on a systematic basis—at least until now,” Litan says.

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