Competitive Intelligence and social media security

Last week I had the opportunity to co-present the topic of competitive intelligence, social media security and corporate policy at SecureWorld with Lewis McMurran –  VP of Government and External Affairs at the Washington Technology Industry Association ( @lewismcmurran )

Attendees packed into the room and left standing room only. Unlike my other workshops on social media, SecureWorld is attended by IT and data professionals. While the rest of the world is thinking about how useful Facebook or Twitter may be, these people are thinking about triple layer security protocols, redundant fail safe deployment, variable secure socket encryption, and struggle with one simple fact: user training. The Amazon Web Services cybersecurity is what keep systems and documents safe and secure.

Why competitive intelligence &

social media security is hot

While hundreds of millions of people have flocked to social media sites like Facebook, Youtube, Linkedin and Twitter… those same users have failed to understand basic ideas around data security.

My background in competitive intelligence
and data security

This topic has been ‘a long time brewing’

My Father, Mother and Grand-mother were all in the national security agency. My father was an IT and data security professional before most people even heard of a computer. As I was growing up my father had involvement with all levels of technology: in addition to a day job with the NSA, he was the president of the local Apple club and ran a group of computer stores for a decade (from 1988 to 2000.)

My father (and many people like him) were the first generation of online competitive intelligence professionals who were trying to keep our country safe.

This obviously had an affect on me. By the time I was sixteen I was a moderator of a 24 line bulletin board system (BBS) and had self-trained myself as a digital artists before Photoshop even existed.

Skip forward twenty years.

  • Facebook not only has hundreds of millions of users, but it also has a blockbuster movie.
  • Twitter is built into our phones, our news casts, and our review process
  • 3g/4G technology is soon to be built into everything (if it isn’t already…)

Yet we remain with the basic problem… user education.

While we can erect massively complex systems for defending ourselves from cyber-attacks such as trojan worms and viruses, the reality is that many users:

A) do not activate security settings properly

B) actively disable proper security settings

We operate in a “digital world” where relatively few people understand the value of locking up and safe-guarding what they own. As a society we understand the value of things we can hold and touch, but very few of us are given the insight to value ideas and intangible things like data.

As a general comparison:

  • a majority of us lock our automobile so things will not be stolen
    (even though we only have a few hundred dollars worth of ‘stuff’ in our car)
  • a majority of us will casually login to an unsecure WIFI network at the coffee shop
    (exposing access to our passwords, email settings, and even bank accounts.)

What made attendees at SecureWorld
different from other “social media users”

The simple fact is that they were not social media users.
They were data managers trying to secure information.
Many of attendees didn’t actively use social media.
They needed to resolve absolute business case issues.

An interesting point to note is that as IT and technology professionals, they also had a different language and terminology for what they were doing.

  • exposed social data = competitive intelligence
  • eliminate risks of data loss = social media security
  • compliance and legal issues= social media policy
  • user education and adoption = social media training

While basic, these fundamental language issues created significant barriers. My personal/professional childhood gave me the ability to translate them into effective conversation, hopefully relaying enough information about things like social media privacy and reputation management.

Competitive Intelligence vs. Social Media Security

These two elements are different sides of the same coin. The data exposed by the adoption of social media creates multiple opportunities for competitive intelligence and business revenue, while the same data creates tremendous risk and liability for social media security.

The critical factors for establishing how to maximize opportunity and reduce risk revolve around

  • identifying benchmarks for your business model
  • mapping out departmental silos with updated tools/efficiencies
  • being aware of what processes need specific compliance double-checks
  • having a comprehensive, yet flexible update for your social media policy
  • creating an actionable crisis action plan that addresses top business concerns
  • protecting key business assets with justified understanding (insurance, back-up plans, etc)

What other elements do you see in the emerging field of competitive intelligence and social media security?