Interns Present New Social Media Risk

A new generation of interns may open organizations up to new risks…

An article review.


If you’ve been paying attention to the world of breaches and other security lapses over the years, the idea of the “insider threat” is probably nothing new—your own employees can sometimes be as likely to cause an incident as a hacker working from the outside. New research from IBM X-Force Red, however, has revealed a new addition to that old threat: young interns and social media.

The idea that social media can be a security threat is nothing new, in fact we’ve released a number of articles and resources on the subject over the years. What has changed, according to the team at IBM, is just how dedicated the next generation of interns is to social media…and that, combined with a tendency to train interns differently than fully fledged employees, can lead to trouble: the researchers were able to find enough information to mount an attack about 75 percent of the time, in just a few hours of searching social media.

In one case, researchers found an intern who happily posted her new corporate identification badge on Instagram. In other cases, they were able to find details about internal office layouts and Outlook calendar details. Combined with details on jobs from sites such as Glassdoor, social engineers could have enough information to piece together a believable phishing email, or know enough about an office’s layout to move about without attracting attention.

To help mitigate this threat, experts suggest giving interns the same security training that regular employees receive. Additionally, they suggest awareness training should be made part of the onboarding process, instead of only being conducted company-wide on an annual basis. Some larger organizations go further, employing social media monitors to watch for mentions of their organization online.

Social media is often a necessary tool for customer outreach and awareness among organizations today, but without a plan to address its use by employees—and interns–you may be opening yourself up to added risk.

Original article by Lindsey O’Donnell writing for Threatpost.



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