Enterprise adoption of social networking presents security hurdles

Enterprise adoption of social networking presents security hurdles

Companies that communicate with customers via Facebook and Twitter must protect sensitive data, SugarCRM official notes at JasperSoft conference

The growing use Facebook and Twitter in enterprises presents security challenges for companies that now need to communicate with customers via these social networking technologies, said SugarCRM CEO Larry Augustin at JasperWorld 2011 on Wednesday.

Using these networks to communicate means bringing potentially sensitive data to public networks, said Augustin during a panel session on the "New IT Stack" at the conference in San Francisco.  "That is a scary proposition," he said. "How do we [communicate] through a firewall?"

[ After CEO Mark Zuckerberg's fan page was hacked, Facebook recently rolled out always-on encryption. | Also, a new study shows IT workers exhibit a surprising lack of security awareness. | Learn how to secure your systems with Roger Grimes' Security Adviser blog and Security Central newsletter, both from InfoWorld. ]

"I'm being forced to open up in ways that I hadn't anticipated,"  said Augustin. Companies must figure out how to use these social networking sites to bring conversations inside a firewall without exposing ERP data, Augustin said.

As a counterpoint to the potential risks of social networking, Augustin cited cloud computing as a new development that offers users the opportunity to scale applications. Another panelist, RightScale CEO Michael Crandell, offered a mixed review of what is being done on the cloud. Public-facing Web applications, media trans-coding, and grid applications "have already been on there for a couple years," he said. But this is not the case with other enterprise systems, Crandell said. "Your most precious central ERP system is probably not looking to move out to a public cloud anytime soon," he said.

Also at the conference, Marten Mickos, the former CEO of MySQL, said the LAMP (Linux Apache MySQL Perl/Python/Apache) stack -- synonymous with open source application deployments in the last decade -- is now being complemented  by a broader set of technologies.

This new IT stack, in addition to LAMP components, features technologies such as the JBoss application server, Hadoop distributed computing platform, Java, KVM (Kernel-based Virtual Machine), and Ruby on Rails, according to Mickos, who is now CEO of Eucalyptus Systems.  "This is not a complete picture of the stack," he added. Mickos said he once advised Microsoft to promote Windows in place of Linux in a variation of the stack he termed "WAMP."

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