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How to strap on the Web 2.0 safety harness

  • 31 March 2010
  • Written by 
  • Published in Security

The founder of the Australian High Tech Crime Centre, Alastair MacGibbon, and Australian Federal Police agent and high tech security expert Nigel Phair have teamed up to run a workshop exploring the security challenges associated with enterprise adventures with Web 2.0.

The event - Manipulating Online Social Media - will be held on Sydney on 11 May and look at the way social media can be abused, as well as the steps organisations can take to protect themselves.

The timing for such an event seems ripe given the rising interest in Web 2.0 among enterprises.

When Gartner released its 2010 CIO report earlier this month it noted that internationally Web 2.0 was the third highest technology priority - up from 15th position a year ago. Australian CIOs were slightly less gung-ho, ranking Web 2.0 as their sixth technology priority.

MacGibbon, a former agent with the AFP and more recently head of trust, safety and customer support for eBay Asia Pacific, now runs private security consultancy Surete Group. He said that Australian organisations were facing 'an awful lot of pressure to get on the social web and engage customers.

'That's terrific, but nothing is consequence free,' according to MacGibbon. 'Companies face a lot of pressure from marketing, but they need to go in with their legal, privacy and IT security eyes open.'

For example, companies who engaged with customers through Twitter, needed to still establish the identity of a customer as they would if the interaction was face to face or on the telephone. They also needed to ensure that fundamental privacy rights were maintained, and may have to beef up IT security to cope with Web 2.0 challenges.


Companies also needed to have clear policies on the way they interacted with people using Web 2.0 tools. MacGibbon offered the example of Nestle which earlier this month copped flak over its Facebook activities.

The company had set up a page on Facebook and encouraged consumers to interact using the social web, but when the site was used by environmental protestors Nestle lashed out, leading to a public relations hiccup for the giant company.

MacGibbon said that part of the conference was aimed at demonstrating how companies could establish Web 2.0 presence 'Without getting called up to the CEO's office about how it all went dreadfully wrong.'

Stressing that he was in no way criticising social networking itself, MacGibbon said the seminar was intended to provide some guidance about how to 'build robust mechanisms' that would allow companies to safely engage using Web 2.0.

'Anyone who sees Web 2.0 as a silver bullet is probably buying the wrong silver bullet. It's just another way to deal with customers.'

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