Help needed: social media security concerns in government

Help needed: social media security concerns in government

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The deal is that people in government realize that social media helps them
serve the public better, but have legitimate concerns regarding some
security issues.

I've heard those concerns directly from a range of agencies and
departments, pretty much everywhere including the EPA, State, Homeland
Security, and Defense. Everyone wants to move ahead with social media, but
we need help from social media companies to minimize real security risk.

The mood in Washington is that social media can:

  • help an agency directly serve the public better
  • help an agency perform better, by enabling the rank and file to improve
    internal processes, etc.
  • help workers to connect with each other, within agencies, and across
    agencies, for mutual support

Mutual support is the least tangible, and possibly most effective aspect
of social media, since that's how you get network effects leading to a
tipping point.

However, there are real security concerns regarding social media, real
threats.

Some are technological; some sites rely on loading executable code on your
systems to make things work. That might mean prohibiting others from
including such code, since it could invade an agency network.

Operational security is often a human matter; if you're a war fighter, you
don't want to Twitter your location. If you're a diplomat, you don't
disclose what hotel your team might be using. In practice, education
solves most, but not all that problem.

Our mutual need is to get serious, and get the big social media companies
working together to prevent problems. Folks in State, Defense, and
Homeland Security, people who believe in social media can articulate the
priority concerns.

However, you might observe that the benefits of social media are for
everyone, in companies as well as government, and also, in our own home
uses of social media. Similarly, the same security concerns apply to
private concerns, at work, and at home.

What's next? Getting the leading edge people with the deepest concerns
together with people in serious social media companies. That's what's been
started, now needs to get going fast.

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