Managing your online reputation

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Are you keeping your company secrets secret? The amount of confidential information that can be found on the Internet is amazing. The exposure isn't always intentional. There are many ways that information can end up in the wrong hands. Search engines are the obvious way to find this type of information. However, what it commonly overlooked is exposure via Peer to Peer (P2P) software such as BearShare and others. Many times employees use these applications to grab music, video or games from the Internet, unknowingly sharing their entire hard drive or some part of it with the world at large. Work from home team members may be using the family PC for work during the day, but letting their teens fill their iPods using these tools at night, inadvertantly exposing your information and the business to high levels of risk. A comprehensive search of P2P and popular search engines is a great start to fixing this problem, allowing you to identify any leaking data and track down those responsible in most cases. At the very least, it often lets you focus your awareness and education activities to help minimize the risk.

Last, but not least, never underestimate the power of one voice. Especially when that voice uses YouTube as an amplifier. Up until a few months ago most people had never heard of Dave Carroll. The singer was traveling on United Airlines and witnessed his Taylor guitar being thrown by baggage handlers. When United Airlines refused to compensate him for his loss he produced the song "United Breaks Guitars" and posted it on YouTube. As of today, the video has had over 5 million views. If you search YouTube for United Airlines, Dave's video is the first result. What you won't find in the search results is a public response from United Airlines. What you will find is a video from Taylor guitars empathizing with Dave's situation and offering travel tips to musicians.

These are only a portion of the areas that we cover when we perform reputational risk assessments for clients, but these are good starting points for those wishing to do the basics for themselves. Good luck out there!

-- Brent Huston is CEO and Security Evangelist for Microsolved, Inc.
-- Valerie Thomas is an Information Security Analyst for MicroSolved, Inc.

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