Tag Archives: corporate responsibility

Social Networks: The Unseen Dangers

SOCIAL NETWORKS: THE #1 MALWARE SOURCE – Last year, I predicted that the web was the battleground and social networks would get ugly. Both those predictions proved true. This year’s threat is no different – just more specific. Social networks have in fact become so ugly that they will be the #1 source of malware infections. Why? Nielsen Online says social networks have become more popular communication tools than email. Also, social networks by their very nature are gathering places, which tends to imply increased levels of trust. Finally, social networks leverage complex, Web 2.0 technologies that can suffer serious security vulnerabilities. When you add those factors together, it’s no wonder that social networks will become to malware what email used to be to the virus; the #1 source of infection.Corey Nachreiner, WatchGuard® Senior Security Analyst, CISSP www.watchguard.com

I spent a few years working for a technology services company that provided online detection of various forms of malware that posed a security and privacy threat to both consumers and business. Some of the work spanned various industries such as financial institutions and insurance companies as well as law enforcement agencies to detect fraud, counterfeiting and cybercrime in general. This was well before Facebook, Foursquare and Twitter became universal social networking platforms. Clearly the problem is much worse today as underscored by the above quote.

One thing that users seem to be oblivious to, whether they be business managers or consumers, is that social networks are cloud computing applications. They sit out on the Internet, a relatively open and unsecure environment where all types of predators lurk – identity thieves, terrorists and scam artists. Their ‘corporate’ vision and mission is carried out with the sole intent of stealing your identity, emptying your bank account and infecting your IT system with malware and harmful viruses, all without a shred of moral fibre or social conciousness. Beneath the surface are some very social criminals that want to be your ‘friend’ in a most unwarranted way.

It is unfortunate that social networks platforms do not, as a rule, provide disclaimers or warnings for people before they sign on. While the premise of ‘friending’ or ‘following’ people is innocent enough, there is little in the way that protects people from the possibility of online identity theft, fraud or in the worst cases, stalking and surveillance. The most egregious cases come from those who arrogantly declare privacy as a thing of the past, knowing full well that those who profit most are those who engage in online criminal activity.

It’s not surprising that many business are reluctant to take up social networking platforms. These software applications, mostly free, do not have the security safeguards that would prevent unwarranted intrusions into an enterprise’s data bases or email systems containing confidential and proprietary information. Security Solutions is one of the fastest growing areas of IT services and a facet of corporate governance that has taken on strategic importance in the digital age. As much as social networks have seen incredible growth in the past 5 years, so has online fraud. Concurrent with this has been the growth in security solutions such anti-malware applications, vulnerability assessment and penetration testing.

At some point, marketers and social media advocates need to wake up and understand the risks inherent in open and unsecure software systems. In doing so, they might be a bit more successful in moving their social media agenda forward. The responsibility to ensure that consumers are well out of harm’s way needs to be a serious consideration.

– Ted Morris, 4ScreensCRM

(Cross-posted at http://www.cloudave.com)

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Toyota’s Troubles: Real-Time Memory Loss

There is a lot of media hype of late concerning the series of recalls that Toyota has undertaken. While some of the numbers may be staggering, recalls are quite routine. One site, http://www.autorecalls.us/ enables you to search any make or model, from Porche and Bentley to that paragon of quality, Mercedes-Benz. The NHTSA has a database of defects and recalls http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/.

Here are some notable recalls that other manufacturers have undertaken in the past 6 years, according to Reuters via Yahoo Finance:

2004 – GM recalled nearly 4 million pickups because of corroding tailgate cables.

April 2005 – GM said it was recalling more than 2 million vehicles to fix a variety of potential safety defects, most of them on cars and trucks sold in the U.S. GM said the largest of the safety actions included 1.5 million full-size pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles from the 2003 to 2005 model years with second-row seat belts that may be difficult to properly position across passengers’ hips.

Oct. 2005 – Toyota recalled about 1.41 million cars globally, including the Corolla and 15 other models, due to trouble with their headlight switching systems.

Dec. 2007 – Chrysler LLC said it would recall 575,417 vehicles as long-term wear on the gear shift assembly could cause them to shift out of park without the key in the ignition. The recall involved 2001 to 2002 model-year Dodge Dakota pickup trucks, Durango sports utility vehicles and Ram van models and 2002 model-year Ram pickup trucks.

Aug. 2008 – GM announced a recall of 857,735 vehicles equipped with a heated windshield wiper fluid system for a potential short-circuit problem, according to federal safety regulators.

Sept. 2009 – Toyota said it would recall approximately 3.8 million vehicles in the U.S. because of floor mats that could have come loose and force down the accelerator. The problem was suspected in crashes that have killed five people.

Oct. 2009 – Ford completed a series of recalls affecting 14 million vehicles due to faulty cruise control deactivation switch. The latest recall involved some 4.5 million vehicles. The action effectively closed out a 10-year saga over the switches made by Texas Instruments that led to more than a half-dozen recalls, the automaker said.

While Toyota might not have done the best job of handling recalls in a textbook public relations fashion, they nonetheless are getting on with the job of remediating the issues.

Let’s remember, far more people get killed in the US every year by drunk drivers than by faultly automobiles. According to the NHTSA drunk driving deaths (11,773) accounted for 32% of the total amount of United States car accident deaths (37,261) in 2008. Prohibition is not likely to return in this millenium.

As we race about this new social world of real-time, let’s take the time to pause, get the facts together and put the real world into perspective.

Ted Morris, 4ScreensCRM

Manage The Experience – Control Your Brand

There’s been an awful lot of talk lately about  ‘social media’  and how brands are no longer in control. It’s now all in the hands of the consumer. What strikes me about this kind of thinking is that it’s never actually been proven, using solid data, valid business cases or testimonial by a company or brand that has fallen victim to the rise in consumer control.  

Hell hath no fury like a consumer scorned

Ok, so your first push back might be “What about the Jeff Jarvis Dell Hell”? or “What about David Carroll?”  He’s the travelling troubadour who suffered at the hands of United Airlines who allegedly damaged his guitar then lost his luggage. In both cases, the offending brands were mercilessly flagellated online  as the bad news spread like wildfire through dry sagebrush. Dell and United were either unable to plug the gaping hole in their corporate reputation or stood by with an air of utter indifference. The viral vituperative spread across the socialsphere and consumers were vindicated in (almost) real time. “The Man” was taken down.

"I am now in control here..."

So was this all about consumers being in control? Well, yes and no. Yes, in that social media is one of the best things to happen to consumers in providing a channel for consumers to voice opinions about their brand experience good or bad. No, in that brands still have ample oppportunity to do deliver on the brand promise. What this means is exactly that – deliver on what the consumer is promised regarding product performance, service quality and social responsibility.  Stand by your value proposition and make sure that your company is always firing on all cylinders across every customer touchpoint. Consistently manage all customer-facing processes and drive the use of customer information about preferences, contact protocols  and wants & needs across the enterprise. Make sure employees are enabled, trained and supported to delivery the very best, on demand.

Manage your company. Control your brand.