Social media is often typecast as a dynamic technology segment where, in the blink of an eye, you can miss the latest viral video on YouTube or the latest casualty of an erstwhile social media darling (RIP, MySpace). Thus, it’s no small feat to keep up with the continuous feature, product, and service enhancements emanating from the labs of Facebook, Twitter, and their brethren.
This week’s announcement of the Facebook-Skype integration sent shockwaves at typical lightning speed. And for those organizations who have embraced not just Facebook but also Skype and other forms of real-time communications now seek to understand what this integration means to their security and communications infrastructure, we have some words of comfort.
Many times, compliance, legal, and IT security departments need some time to digest the implications of these new features on their business. So being able to block new features by default is a necessary requirement for enterprise organizations. Hark back to the early days of the firewall, when it was incredibly important to ensure that the default setting, when you implemented a new system, was to block and then open access.
That’s where we are with social media now. With more than 530 changes to the major social networks (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter) in 2011 alone, security issues rear their heads with every new feature, especially when we look at the world of P2P communications. Long heralded as the darling of intrusion detection, Skype’s encrypted nature and ability to tunnel through any open port on a firewall makes it a unique and beloved communications tool. But at the same time, it’s also a risk for some organizations that cannot – and – will not allow encrypted traffic on their network (unless they know the key). And when I look at the requirement from the new Facebook Video Calling application to install an .exe file in order to use the plugin, I head back to my roots in the UK IT Security space and think that’s not necessarily something we as security professionals want our end users doing.
Here at Actiance, we were able to provide DAY ZERO protection to our customers – blocking access to the new Facebook Video and Calling capabilities. As a default, we block new features to ensure that our customers can then decide their policies. And, with a decade of experience dealing with real-time changes to networks and communications platforms, it comes as second nature to our team to provide these capabilities.
That said, did I install Facebook Video Calling? Of course. Am I using it? Of course. Do I like it? I have to say, “Wow, yes.” Being that Skype and Facebook have been, since I moved to the USA just over a year ago, my primary forms of personal communications with the folks back home, having these two communications modalities in a single login is sweet. Oh yes, I like it. I like it lots.