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How to prevent social media becoming a security issue?

15 February 2013 | 12:45 am

Protecting its reputation is core to Experian’s business. With the growth in social media, it has had to balance the desire to embrace the latest communications technologies with the need to limit any potential risk to its reputation through ill-thought-out posts or, worse, deliberate sabotage.

“With social media, the biggest problem is loss of central oversight,” admits Caroline Bromley, Security specialist at Experian, “I wanted named individuals to take ownership of each account, as this offers the twin advantages of every account keeping its specific business focus, as well as helping us with accountability. But with a lot of people authorised to manage social media accounts on Experian’s behalf, the danger of potentially harmful posts increases, and the more robust the account management has to be.”

What was required was a way of managing all of Experian’s social media accounts centrally. Bromley wanted to be able to see and delete anything that was written on the companies behalf, as well as being able to limit access to an account if an employee leaves the company or makes postings that could harm its reputation.

Different employees also required different levels of access. A junior marketing executive doesn’t need the same permissions as the marketing director or the legal team, for instance.

Experian’s PR and marketing departments, integrated business units, service and support departments, as well as its designated legal team, all require something different from social media activity. For example, the marketing people are passionate about analytics and graphs, monitoring and reach, and, of course, brand management. But from Bromley’s perspective it’s all about security.

“After researching the market, we found UK-based CrowdControlHQ which had developed of a multi-user risk management and monitoring platform that ticked all of our boxes,” continues Bromley, “From a security perspective, CrowdControlHQ offers the ability to monitor and manage all of our social media accounts centrally. The platform gives me control over user permissions across the entire business, with the ability to set the system to block, delete or flag posts automatically if they step outside what we consider acceptable parameters. This enables us to catch potentially damaging posts or tweets before they go live. The legal team likes this too.”

From a marketing perspective, it offers all the functionality that marketing guys love, such as ‘buzzword monitoring’ and analytics that measured the reach of their posts – data that can be fed back into their business cases. They can also see what activity is most effective, and how the Experian brand is being perceived.

One of the key requirements at Experian is that every product it invests in must undergo full penetration testing. There is no point buying software designed to ensure all your accounts are safely managed if they can be easily hacked. Penetration testing is verification by an independent third-party that the software does what it says it does and does it in a completely secure way. CrowdControlHQ passed the rigorous testing, and Experian have now integrated the platform seamlessly into its systems across the entire organisation.

“The roll-out has been a pleasure. We worked side-by-side with the CrowdControlHQ team to ensure all our issues were addressed and questions were answered. We helped put in the groundwork, so we really feel like stakeholders in the platform.”

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