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Joe Lipscombe | July 9, 2013
"The lack of control over the use of social media in the workplace could cause irreparable damage to the person and the company he or she represents"

Social has arrived, but it took time. The crowds of people fluttering around the IT industry claiming to be social experts because they can define a 'retweet' and have 700-plus friends on Facebook has frustrated many, with companies struggling to get a real grasp of how social media and networks can effectively help power businesses into the next generation of trade and success.

What social media does do is collect an impressively large amount of customer data — positive and negative. It offers a constantly reachable platform of customers and partners from across the globe. It allows casual engagement and coherent communication channels. All-in-all, social networking is a powerful tool when businesses realise its potential. reported that there are 3,370,780 Facebook users in the United Arab Emirates alone, making it the 48th highest country in the world for users. The survey also suggested that 35 percent of Internet users in the region do so for business purposes. In the UAE, that suggests that around 1,179,773 of these Facebook accounts are businesses — that's a large database which is instantly reachable and easily contactable.

Saudi Arabia represents the highest percentage in the region; 43 percent of the 35 percent is driven from there.

The danger of numbers
So what do these numbers mean for security? It's been said that nearly 80 percent of Internet users have the same basic email address, username and password for social media as they do for critical accounts such as online banking, and business databases.

Consider this idea with the numbers mentioned above; if 3,370,780 UAE residents use Facebook, and 80 percent of those replicate their passwords for other accounts, then the opportunity for cyber theft and hackers to infiltrate personal accounts is extremely high.

"Answers to the simple questions you get asked when logging securely into financial sites —like when were you born, where were you born, what's your mother's maiden name, etc — can be found easily on Facebook if you're a sophisticated attacker. It's very easy for someone to hack you using your social activity," says Justin Doo, Director of Security Practices, Symantec.

This is a basic risk for employers who now have the added concern of BYOD — with many devices being constantly logged into social sites on an operating system which is also hosting the company's applications.

"Maybe it is not so much BYOD that has changed this, but more that social media is available on the smartphones that we all now possess. Today any smartphone will have Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and other services installed — to some extent, social media has been one of the major drivers for smartphone adoption," says Nicolai Solling, Director of Technology Services, help AG.


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