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Social Media Use Policy

Everywhere you turn today you will find social media. People taking selfies at the grocery store, responding to Instagram while walking down the street, and of course checking Facebook status while clocked in at work. What do you do when social media use gets out of hand in the workplace? It can seem like a never-ending battle with employees, but it doesn’t have to be that way.   

Before you go any further, draft up a social media use policy. This will save you headaches and possible litigation. Employees can agree to it and follow it or they can find work elsewhere. Sounds harsh, I know, but your business’s reputation is not worth Mary’s selfie. Don’t get me wrong, the policy doesn’t have to be rigid and forceful. Your employees are adults and can handle responsibility. Similar to a job description, policies allow for clarification and accountability. Great for both employer and employee.   

To create a social media use policy, start by splitting the policy between company official accounts and personal accounts. Then take a look at rules and regulations. With this part, you want to clearly overview your brand as well as how you want it perceived. It is important that employees are on the same page for this. That way the message is consistent across all platforms, no matter who posts or comments, talk about confidentiality and what company info can or cannot be shared. It can be similar to the non-disclosure you had your employees sign when they got hired. Then, of course, outline the potential consequences to not following these guidelines. Ensure these are clear and concise because a loophole can be quickly manipulated. Then you can go onto the same steps but for personal use.  

Once you have that jotted down, you can move to the next part, roles and responsibilities. It is in this section that you have to figure out who will have access to the company’s social media or to any in general. Think about it, it might not be best to block it altogether. You can harness the power of social media for your benefit though if you play it smart. Your marketing team will need it, well, to market. Sales can keep in touch with prospects or members easily and it gives all parties conformation that you care. Beyond that, you may want to give your receptionist or office manager access in order to help with customer service on different platforms.   

While working on this, keep a few things in mind. Don’t discourage use, and ensure the language of the document sounds positive. Employees will get upset with a big change to what they’re used to. A list of don’ts is only frustrating and discouraging. Also, be transparent on why you have a policy. Let them know that productivity has been affected. Not only that, be clear with them about the potential security risks you are trying to avoid. Train the employees using company social media how to see security risks and what to look for. Then finally, explain how a policy keeps everyone honest and accountable. As long as you are transparent about the new policy, implementing it shouldn’t be a huge issue. If you have employees assist you in drafting this document, that’s even better. They are part of the change and not being steamrolled by it.

Have you ever received a Facebook friend request from your mom even though she is already a friend of yours on Facebook? So, you call her up to make sure she didn’t forget her password again and just create a new FB page. Then right after that, “she” sends you a video link saying you’re in a YouTube video. You think, “Well dang I didn’t think she even knew how to use messenger”. As the confusion mounts, you realize, momma’s FB has been cloned in an effort to hack your account. Not today hackers! 

In this day and age of social media, there are two very specific ways hackers compromise your data. Cloning is the first. This is when someone makes a social media account by using someone else’s identity. You’ve all seen them, mom is already your friend on FB but now you’re receiving another friend request from her. The new page has one photo, no posts and a handful of mutual friends that fell for the fake profile. This within itself is not hacking. It’s incredibly easy to copy a photo and create a basic FB page with basic information. The idea behind cloning is to get you to think this is your friend or loved one so they can hack your information. Social engineering can come into play, asking mutual friends for money – saying you’ve been arrested. Another way is by having the clone account send malware to friends.   

This exact situation happens more often than not, but what does it have to do with your business? Mom may not work with you, but take her lesson as a valuable warning. When Facebook account funny business, a multitude of things could occur, compromising your business, clients and other important data you may have stored. Imagine receiving a message on your company Facebook messenger from a friend saying “you’re in a YouTube video”. The link is readily available, you have the urge to click on it, it could be bad PR right? So, you click it and instantly, the malware takes over your computer. Passwords and logins are automatically stolen from you and in the hands of hackers. Not good. This could compromise payment methods or pertinent company information. This hacked info could turn into full-blown social engineering if you don’t pay attention. The worst part is that almost everyone on your friend list will get bombarded by a similar message creating a domino effect. It’s terrible to infect your loyal followers and you’ll see a lot unfollow you because of the inconvenience.   

Facebook is not the only platform to worry about, in fact, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat have all fallen victim to hacks. One huge reason for this is because people don’t know better when it comes to security information. Social media is so easy to use that people often forget that information can be compromised. Careless clicking is another culprit. Aren’t you curious what your favorite coffee says about your personality? Its quizzes and fun time wasters like this that allows hackers to access information. So simply clicking on these silly things opens your account to malware and in some cases ransomware. Users have reported being locked out of their accounts, accounts being deleted and some even being held for ransom until users paid the hacker. If you are using these platforms for business, you must be extra leery about what you are clicking on. It’s a terrible day when the content on your social media disappears over an avoidable breach.  

These things don’t have to happen to you as long as you are smart about your social media. Make sure whoever is running it is well trained in cybersecurity. Also, ensure your passwords are strong and not easy to hack. Then go check on mom and give her a fast and efficient cybersecurity breakdown. This subject seems obvious, but the amount of people that get hacked each year as well as the amount of stolen data continues to grow. Hackers are also constantly looking for new ways to take information. Be vigilant and up to date on current trends. Protect your business from these sly social media mongers.

Very few employees can honestly say they spend the entirety of their workday actually working. Whether it’s the 15 minutes you spend making your coffee in the morning, or the 10 minutes catching up on Facebook after lunch, the occasional work break is inevitable.  

A recent study showed that the average worker admits they waste three hours per eight-hour workday, not including lunch and scheduled break-time. However, a different study stated that workers only spent about 35 minutes, per day, not working.  

While concluding the exact amount of time workers waste during their workday might be difficult (because no one wants to admit they are looking for deals on patio furniture rather than writing that time-wasting blog they were assigned,) we can all say we have been guilty of frittering away some precious time during our workdays.  

Here are the top four ways employees are wasting their time at work and a few ideas on how to be more productive during your workday. 

Time Waster #1: Emails  

Emailing has become the top form of communication in the workplace. What’s the first thing most of us do when we come into work? Check our emails. Technological advances in the way we communicate have brought about the notion of having to be connected at all times. Our clients and even our colleagues tend to expect instant responses to each and every message, even when we are sick or on vacation. While email can be extremely beneficial, a lot of our workday is spent reading and answering emails. Many professionals have actually found they can get much more done during their workday if they don’t respond immediately to every single email. 

Solution: Try not to check your email first thing in the mornings. Instead, spend anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour working on something more important first thing in the morning. This allows you to fully concentrate on what you have to do without any of those unread emails distracting or stressing you. You can also increase productivity by simply turning off your email notifications for short periods of time during the course of your day. It could be 15 minutes, or it could be 60 minutes, but you’ll realize that during that distraction-less time you’ll be able to blast through your to-do list.  

Time Waster #2: Online Distractions   

The Internet is known for luring employees deeper and deeper into its web (no pun intended) with each and every click. It is said that 60% of online purchases are made during regular work hours and 65% of YouTube viewers watch between 9am – 5pm on weekdays when (presumably) at work. While social media outlets such as YouTube and Facebook can be a great platform for brand awareness and business growth, let’s be honest – how many times are you actually on these sites marketing for your company? You’re not, you’re wishing your uncle Brad a happy birthday. Some professionals have even admitted to spending time job hunting during work hours on company computer – shame on you! 

Solution: If you just absolutely can’t keep yourself from refreshing your Facebook feed every 10 minutes, simply block it. StayFocusd is an extension Google Chrome offers that allows you to set a certain amount of time to any website of your choice and once that time is up, it denies further access to these sites. If that seems too harsh, you can always better manage your lunch time. Take the first half of your lunch break to feed yourself and use the second half to completely indulge and get your daily fix of online distractions without feeling guilty. And if you still can’t get away from these Internet sites, well, you got a bigger problem, buddy.  

Time Waster #3: Colleagues   

Nobody enjoys spending their entire workday in silence. Humans are social creatures by nature. We all appreciate a little chat here and there during our workday. For that reason, co-workers can be awesome. But, they can also be a major time suck.  

How many colors does the printer have? Are we supposed to send this email this week or next? Where should I upload the document? Can you review this really quick? 

We have all had those colleagues that treat us like we are the employee handbook. While it can be very flattering being thought of as the expert of the group, the fact that you are constantly being asked repeating questions can quickly become irritating. Not to mention, it can take up a huge part of your workday.  

Solution: Headphones! Wear headphones while you work. Even if you aren’t listening to anything, having both of your headphones in will signal to your colleagues that you’re focused and in the zone. I understand some of us have very persistent co-workers who may still decide to come on over to your desk and give you quick tap on the shoulder. At that point, simply tell them you are glad they came by because you need help with [insert irrelevant work assignment here]. If they leave your desk with some work to do, they’ll think twice next time they come on over for a chat.   

Time Waster #4: Meetings   

Meetings are a necessary evil in most companies. 47% of professionals say their biggest time waster is having to attend too many meetings. On average, 33 minutes a day are spent just trying to schedule these meetings. You don’t always need to have a meeting, nothing makes an employee more frustrated than having their scheduled filled with unnecessary meetings. We have all been to those meetings where literally nothing pertained to you and absolutely zero words came out of your mouth. While communication in the workplace is extremely important, there are better ways of communicating information that doesn’t involve attending meetings every other hour. 

Solution: Next time you’re invited to a meeting, that you believe might be irrelevant for you, ask the host why they think your presence is needed. You can then set up some sort of system where your supervisor can go in your place and later simply cascade down that information to the rest of the team. If your supervisor is too busy to even attend themselves, then you could ask to meet with the host a couple minutes before to share your insight because you will not be able to stay the entire time.   

There are many other time wasters that we could discuss, but we’ll have to save that for another time – I have a meeting. 

Not so long ago it would have been ridiculous to ask a new employer to give you free TV, free Movies, free Mail, free Music, and a free TV camera and crew at your house in case you wanted to work from home and conduct a meeting with coworkers. Yet, with the internet, all of these things and more are at the fingertips of most office employees. And a growing number of employees will use some or all of these services for personal use while under your roof and on the clock.  

Many employees use much more bandwidth than is necessary to do their jobs. But as a business owner, what can you do about it? First of all, you’ve got to let your employees know that bandwidth is a commodity. Just like electricity, water, and leasing building space, bandwidth is a necessary expense you need to keep your business running. But unlike all the others, the amount of bandwidth you truly need varies based on the workload. But it can also be overused by employees who stream videos, stream music or play video games between completing company tasks. So, who are these Bandwidth Bandits? Let’s take a look at the most likely culprits. 

VIDEO: Does your company upload or store video content on a daily basis? Many companies do these days, especially for Marketing and Training purposes. But what about the videos that are being watched in-between company projects? Viewing TV shows or movies online uses about 1 GB of data per hour for standard definition video, and up to 3 GB per hour for HD video. Downloading and streaming consume about the same amount of data. And since just about everything online is HD quality, you can see that video content is usually the guiltiest bandwidth abuser in your office. 

WIFI: Everything that is available to your employees through their internet connection is available through Wifi. But the extra signal drainers Wifi puts on bandwidth are the users who connect their phones to wifi so they can save on their personal data plan. So at no extra cost to them, they can watch streaming video on their phones. Some people also use their phones to play streaming video games while on, (or off), their lunch breaks. Just being connected puts a small drain on your Wifi, but all the rest can slow your network down to a crawl. 

THE CLOUD: Using the Cloud adds a lot of flexibility to your business. And the scalability allows you to tailor your bandwidth needs as your company’s needs grow or shrink. But the amount of bandwidth usage varies as more and more files and programs are shared through the Cloud. With subscription-based software programs becoming the norm, there’s data floating in and out of your employee’s workstations all day. And if you use heavy-hitting data drainers, like HD video files, that are shared between two or more employees, your Cloud gets weighed down fairly quickly. If not monitored properly, excess data usage through the Cloud can clog your system like hair in a bathtub drain.  

FILE SHARING: Gone are the days when you had to copy a large file onto an external device, a CD or DVD if you wanted to share it with someone. Today there are no files too large to be shared through services like Dropbox. But these large files can slow down your network if you’re not careful. Even sharing smaller files, like documents, photos or audio files will each take a slice out of the bandwidth pie. Basically, every item that is shared with someone else will take away a chunk of bandwidth until the transfer is completed.  

VIDEO CONFERENCING: Whether you’re working from home, meeting with clients, or even interviewing potential new employees, Videoconferencing is defiantly a tool that makes good business sense. Many business trips have been replaced by video conferencing, and that’s good for your budget. But now you’re sending that information through your internet connection, and that needs to be factored in. But the good news is that video conferencing costs a lot less than travel, so spending a little more on bandwidth is probably the most cost-effective way to meet with people one on one. 

STREAMING MUSIC: Many people enjoy listening to music while at work, and if the company allows it, then it’s no big deal. Right? Well, mostly right. Problems may arise when the streaming music is left running 24 hours a day. And the more people stream music the more it will cause a drain on your bandwidth. Even though music streams at a low data rate, some services allow users to store their music files on The Cloud, and that causes a bump in the data flow. Accessing personal music files and streaming Internet Radio may not take up too much bandwidth, but the missing factor is the number of employees who are constantly listening to music. If most of your employees listen to streaming music then data usage should be monitored so you’ll know if this might be an issue for you or not. 

EMAIL: Not too long ago, sending email was a big deal for businesses. When email was a new function, it was the largest drain on bandwidth business owners had to deal with. And if you attached a photo or a document to the email, guess what happened? It took forever for the attachment to transfer its data through the internet connection and get sent along with the email. But today’s much faster internet can handle multiple emails and attachments that were impossible to send just a few years ago. But even though email is a low data user by today’s standards, it still adds up in the overall data usage throughout the workday. 

SOCIAL MEDIA: Humans are social creatures, and they search out ways to stay connected to people they are close to. Social Media gives us many ways to stay in touch with others, but in the office, that comes at a price. When business owners calculate the bandwidth requirements for start-ups, they often don’t factor in their employee’s Social Media habits. Sure, most functions utilized through Social Media don’t use much data at all. But, increasingly, video attachments are sent along with a text message. Even in a compressed state, video files are among the greediest bandwidth thieves.    

As you can see there are many ways your bandwidth is being used throughout the day. And it can impact your business in a variety of ways. For example, just a few years ago it was taboo for employees to spend time watching videos on YouTube or looking at pictures of their nephew’s graduation on Facebook. But today it is generally accepted that employees will spend some time doing these things. 

As a business owner, you can place limits or controls on these habits, but these actions may cost you in other ways. Employee morale is linked to social media habits, and if employees can’t stay in touch with their friends on your time, they’ll probably take more breaks than they used to so they can wish Aunt Edna a Happy Birthday.  

It’s your challenge to find a balance between the bandwidth your business needs and the bandwidth your employees need. As the one who writes the checks, it may not seem fair that you’re funding someone else’s social media habits, but in today’s business arena it’s the price of doing business. And if you use Social Media sites as part of your Marketing Plan, well, you’re probably helping your business grow by letting your employees tell everyone online how much they enjoy working for you. 

 

Have you ever used a public Wi-Fi signal here in Bakersfield? If you live here, it’s highly likely and it’s even more likely you’ve tapped into a free signal during your travels. We are a culture on the move and we are becoming more and more mobile every day. Whether you’re at a coffee shop, 32,000 feet in the air over the Pacific Ocean or even simply within some cities jurisdictions, you have Wi Fi options to tap into.  As of 2017, there were 9 billion mobile devices in use globally and over 300 million Wi-Fi hotspots with an anticipated 432.5 million hotspots by 2020.  Wi-Fi is such an integrated part of society, it even has an official day of recognition each year – June 20th.

With the availability of public Wi-Fi, more than 43% of all workers in the United States were able to take advantage of working remotely from their office and while some may have their own private Wi-Fi hotspots, many rely on the public access.

With all of the positive benefits a connected society has, there leaves as much opportunity for criminals to exploit the system. Public hotspots leave a very open avenue into your digital fingerprint. Bank accounts, credit card numbers, passwords, and so much more. In 2017, there were over 143 million hacks reported in the United States alone from Wi-Fi entries.

Here are some of our biggest threats when it comes to using these hotspots:

Credential Theft

This is one of the easier attacks and can be the beginning of a very damaging effort. On public Wi-Fi, tools such as packet analyzers and LAN keylogger software can give someone sitting nearby everything they need to act as you or your employee. In some cases the software can monitor the screen activity of each computer on the network. All of this unknown to the victim

Malware Installation

Thanks to software vulnerabilitiesmalicious code can be injected into any device on the network. This opens up a world of opportunity for a hacker. Malware can be used to continuously feed information to someone outside your organization. The malware can also be used to activate the microphones on laptops and mobile devices for eavesdropping. The installation of malware is the most dangerous risk. This is because your employee could have compromised your network a long time ago and you wouldn’t know because they access from various locations all the time. So any behavior may not be immediately detectable while using their credentials. The depth of compromise is entirely dependent on the creativity of the hacker.

Man-in-the-Middle Attacks

These are common especially for people who do not visit sites with https. A man-in-the-middle attack occurs when a hacker interceptions your communications. So before you data reaches its intended audience, it goes through the hacker first. This can also apply to passwords and usernames. The man-in-the-middle method is commonly used for eavesdropping and intercepting file or financial transfers.

Unencrypted Networks

Encryption means that the information that is sent between your computer and the wireless router are in the form of a “secret code,” so that it cannot be read by anyone who doesn’t have the key to decipher the code. Most routers are shipped from the factory with encryption turned off by default, and it must be turned on when the network is set up. If an IT professional sets up the network, then chances are good that encryption has been enabled. However, there is no surefire way to tell if this has happened.

With the vulnerability public Wi-Fi leaves us open to, how can anyone consider tapping into it? The good news is that all hotspots are NOT created equally and there are a lot of things you can do to protect yourself.

6 Steps To Keep Yourself Safe

1. Check Names

ALWAYS confirm the network name. Bumming Wi-Fi at a local coffee shop? Looking for a network in a hotel lobby? Wherever you are, never assume you know the network name. Some hackers create free Wi-Fi spots that don’t require passwords, making it easy to access your information due to lack of encryption security. To be sure, verify with an employee or triple check the spelling if it’s printed out before connecting.

2. Always Look For The ‘S’

Use HTTPS when browsing the web. Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure is the secure version of the HTTP you usually use when visiting a URL. Adding that simple ‘S’ at the end encrypts everything between your browser and the sites you visit, keeping information like banking passwords and credit card numbers safe and sound.

3. Store Your Data Safely

Use encrypted storage security. Storing your important files in encrypted storage means they’re password protected and as safe as the money in a bank vault. You can find a range of encryption options, from free downloads to software for purchase that offers more security features. This will ensure that even if hackers do gain access to your computer via an open network, they will not be able to enter your protected vault of files. Think of it like a locked treasure chest within your system, and you’re the only one with the map and the key.

4. Consider Using a VPN

VPN (Virtual Private Network) is simply a group of networks that secure and encrypt communication, and can be connected to remotely. Businesses use this often to connect individuals to network resources, but you can use it to secure your public Internet connection and to protect any data you’re sending and receiving. However you choose to use your VPN, make sure you choose a service that offers protocols on connectivity, server location, and offers features that meet your needs.

5. Utilize Checklists

Make a turn-off checklist and follow it. When you’re planning to visit a location where you know you’ll be using a public network, turn off automatic connection to Wi-Fi on your device. This guarantees you’ll never accidentally join a fake network created to steal your data. Also remember to turn off Wi-Fi when you’re done browsing, always ensuring that you are in control of what, when, and how you connect.

6. Avoid Convenience

Finally, make it a habit to turn off sharing. You never know who’s roaming around trying to covertly access your information. If you have sharing enabled on your device and forget to turn it off, you’re basically waving a flag to potential cybercriminals and saying, here’s an easy target! And never, ever save passwords. It’s convenient but it makes it even easier for any potential threats to access your electronic information.