According to the security firm Symantec more new malicious programs were created in 2008 than useful programs, something they predicted would increase in 2009. And according to a recent report that surveyed over 200 corporate and government IT professionals, 50 percent expressed concern that so-called Generation Y employees were a security concern primarily because of their tendency to frequent social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace.
So my question at hand asks…is the problem the individual and their tendencies to use new mediums to communicate, or is it the technology that allows the security holes to be exploited? That poses a dilemma for organizations grappling with the social-networking phenomenon, or as an expert asked “how do you harness all of the good, but avoid the bad?”
Wise leaders have seen the art of social networking and understand the power of useful digital tools that support collaboration. A problem we are faced with in the protected .mil domain is that current processes do not support rapid deployments of systems that our web savvy soldiers are accustomed to with similar capabilities and a look and feel of commercial applications. They learn on their own how to use Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, yet we ask them to operate on Defense Knowledge Online (DKO) and other proprietary programs that cause a relearn effect and a training delta.
The amount of resources (people, money, time) the Defense Department is required to pour into defense of the networks is without a doubt critical, but who is monitoring the other end of the spectrum to bring in new capabilities commensurate to the public offerings that people know and use? There appears to be little in the way of an organized effort or lead agency looking for the next social networking or collaboration capability for the military community, which means we will continue to be followers, instead of taking the lead.
It’s high time we tackle this challenge collectively and look to bringing useful tools to bear that support the emerging workforce who demonstrate a net-centric way of operating, or they will continue to rely on unreliable or risky commercial applications. Instead of evolution, we need a digital revolution that looks at the challenges of now and into the future and develop an interwoven network of tools. But until then, keep your virus scanner up-to-date and your ports blocked.