A number of innovative internet security companies recently began marketing suites of products designed to protect social media users. The phenomenon of social media is here to stay: from the growth in social advertising to social gaming, more and more users are continually engulfed in the online social experience. But with increased usage comes the necessity for greater security, especially for the enterprise.
Many corporate social media policies rely on simply blocking social media use altogether. This is quickly becoming a less viable option, however, as a growing number of companies and organizations rely on social media in their daily business tasks. For this reason, security vendors are stepping up and offering something more substantial solutions.
Investors are taking notice of the need for social media security: just this week social media compliance software provider SocialWare raised $7 million in venture funding led by Morgan Stanley Expansion Capital, bringing its total to $12 million for the year. Other firms, including Wedge Networks and Websense, are bulking up their offerings and marketing them specifically as security solutions for social media users. In June, Wedge announced it was expanding its “deep content inspection” network gateway approach to monitor real-time traffic for malicious threats, such as something that appears to be from a trusted Facebook friend. Websense similarly offers two social media products: Defensio, which secures against threats that target a user’s own social media pages (such as on Facebook or a blog), and its TRITON solutions, which protect against incoming threats from social sites a user may visit.
Government entities are also increasingly at risk of social media attacks. A recent report [PDF] by the Government Accountability Office found that nearly all major federal agencies are now using Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to provide information about agency activities and to interact with the public. In that vein, Cyveillance announced in June that government agencies can now utilize its Social Engineering Protection Appliance (SEPA), which uses Email Intent Analysis, real-time URL and link analysis, as well as high value target, protection to help keep users from falling victim to attacks.
Social media is expected to become a much bigger part of enterprise operations, according to Gartner, with social networking services acting as the primary means of interpersonal communications in 20% of businesses by 2014. As social media continues to grow, more attention will fall on these security threats. Smaller security providers focused on social media will be prime targets for future acquirers. These could include established security vendors looking to differentiate and remain current, as well as social networks looking to gain points with users concerned with safety.