By Toneo T Rutsito
The availability and affordability of online connectivity in Zimbabwe has made the internet become so ubiquitous, buoyed by the advent of 3g technology and much more faster technologies like LTE or 4g across the horizon.
The proliferation of social networks and our national high internet penetration rate currently marked at 4.5 million subscribers is inextricably driven by affordable mobile bandwidth charges and devices .
Consumer and social products have successfully crept into enterprises and their dominance worldwide is proving inevitable.
Facebook among all other social networks` traffic dominates on bandwidth usage. Most Zimbabweans spent not a day without being entrapped by this irresistible social tool or toy. According to an online research, more than 40% of internet access is going the Facebook way complimented with Twitter then LinkedIn and Myspace.
Facebook recently celebrated a billion plus subscribers world wide and the question that remains to be answered is whether we should encroach this social tool to our workplace.
No doubt social networks can be a direct assault to production and a threat to information security. so much resources are going down the drain but only to fulfill personal not cooperate interests. Facebook has glued a billion active users worldwide in the guise of catching up. Personal information has been carelessly traded and the click and go syndrome has led millions of new users into a puzzling wonderland captivated with pictures, hyper links, games, quizzes and many more.
Arguably Facebook has become an official time waster. If not controlled like fire, it will be a horrible master!
An average Facebook user will use at least 30minutes of his day on social network yet addicts will go beyond 3hrs every day during or after working hours, diminishing productivity. Internet usage be it on social networks or not can be disastrous if not properly managed or controlled even outside corporate peak hours where users have mastered the art of overnight downloading. In small organizations normal downloads and browsing by most employees simultaneously may bring down the network due to unnecessary internet congestion.
Genuine network traffic may not be given a priority suffering delay and time loss especially when your network is not properly setup. Bandwidth traffic always moves with a price tag and the pains of the costs plus denial of service can be avoided.
Besides the productivity, costs and priority issues brought in by unnecessary social network access, this also poses real threats of downloading malwares and social engineering attacks. Twitter ReTweets and Facebook Shares makes it easy to spread malwares with gullible or unsuspecting users spreading the spywares and Trojan horses across the entire network unknowingly.
Today Hundreds of applications being designed for social networks are being used as launch pads for spywares, worms, rootkits and Trojan horses.
Recently Facebook was hit by a worm which attacked most user’s internet explorer web browser where pornographic and grisly pictures were posted on users profile. Organizations may suffer increased virus or malware attacks especially due to ignorance of security measures. How much damage control would have needed to be applied if such an attack was launched from your Facebook company profile?
Because most companies in Zimbabwe have not yet recognized or tapped into the potential of having a corporate Facebook account, there were not bothered by the risks either but it’s probably time we start weighing the risks against the gains of joining the social network bandwagon.
After articulating all those cons of dragging social networking to work environment, It is unbelievable overwhelming to note that they are much more pros than cons and benefits of bringing social network to work.
The question we should be giving emphasis to is, who manages it and how much training have we offered our staff.
Banning social networks at work is a sign of failure, you cannot afford to give up when faced with corporate challenges. The old school way of dealing with such pertinent issues would to completely ban internet access.
This will obviously bring disgruntlement amongst core workers, and encourage employees to circumvent the security systems, the IT personnel may end up cashing up on this need defeating the whole purpose since employees will always work together.
Yet the internet access risks have always proved to be a reality even outside social networks, we will need to confront rather than to ignore them. Known security measures like antivirus and antimalware, end point security, identity and access management, mobile device management and router security implementations will need to be fostered.
The traditionally tech lagging, parastatals and public sector will have to put up with technology and start embracing it with both its benefits and setbacks. We are living in a technological age where human habits can not be allowed to alter or interfere with the gains of tapping into the opportunities presented by technology.
There are a plethora of ways to benefit from this new phenomenon at corporate level and we shall dive deep into these with careful consideration of different organizational structures.