Blocking Social Networking is an Exercise in Futility

Aug 21, 2009
2 minutes
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This Mashable news article talks about how companies are blocking social networking sites. I would call this an exercise in futility. I say this because users will find a way. Social networking, along with IM, Twitter and streaming music have become part of many employees’ daily fabric. When companies try to block these applications, several things will happen, all of which may be worse the allowing access to these applications.

Is trying to control social networking an exercise in futility?
Is trying to control social networking an exercise in futility?

1) employees will quickly find out how to circumvent the technology used to block access. A five minute search on the web will show even the least sophisticated user how to bypass URL filtering or other legacy security technology. Of course the ramifications associated with this action are multi-faceted. First off, it exposes the company to unseen risks such as loss of company data, threat propagation and lack of compliance. Second, it exposes the employee to the same risks, but from a personal data perspective.

2) employees will respond in many ways - mainly in unproductive, dissatisfied ways. They will complain to IT (the internet is down), management (why can’t I see my FaceBook page—I need it for work!) and their friends (OMG - management are luddites – they are blocking FaceBook!). Or worse, they will quit – a rash but not unheard of reaction. In these possible scenarios, productivity decreases even further because employees are ranting about how strict the company is…yadda, yadda, yadda.

Why not take a more proactive approach and embrace these applications by defining how and when they can be used? Stating specifically that yes, you can use these applications, but the company will be scanning the traffic for threats to protect both the networks and employees from themselves. Wouldn’t this make the workplace a more positive environment? And possibly more secure?

You tell me. Give us a shout and let us know your thoughts.

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