Trust issues: Facebook offers companies an added layer of security

Global Business

Security breaches in the United States continue to raise concerns about protecting personal data.

In September, Facebook experienced the largest breach in its company history, with the personal information of nearly 50 million users hacked.

That’s led the company to re-think how it safeguards data, especially for companies with lots of customers.

CGTN’s Mark Niu reports.

As data breaches continue to pile up for U.S. retailers and tech companies like Facebook, even the generation that grew up using social media is putting the brakes on what they post.

“I’m very cautious about what I put on social media, I don’t like… I don’t reveal too much information,” said one female teenager we spoke to.

“We also should not be putting so much trust into these websites and stuff,” said a teenage boy who preferred to remain anonymous.

Software developer James Hay advises against publishing information you’re uncomfortable sharing.

“That’s the best way to keep hold of your information, just don’t let it out to the public,” Hay said. “Then, if it’s a matter of a small startup that’s gathering information online or if it’s a mega-giant like Facebook – for business or your personal use of consumption, the same rules apply –don’t want to share anything you are not comfortable with.”

The lines between personal and business data are also starting to blur.

Facebook has been offering companies “Workplace by Facebook” — a work version of their social network for company employees to communicate and share information with each other.

On Sept. 28, the day of the massive security breach, Workplace by Facebook customer, Walmart, reportedly contacted Facebook for assurances that their business data resided outside the consumer version of Facebook.

Facebook said ‘yes,’ and even revealed it already had plans to move Workplace by Facebook to a separate domain that didn’t even include the Facebook name—

“A lot of concern about all the breaches that have been happening at Facebook,” said Ray Wang, Principal Analyst at Constellation Research. “What people don’t realize is that Facebook for work has been growing. There are 30,000 companies. There are hundreds of millions of users. The problem is what’s the security like? Corporate IT folks and security folks are extremely worried about mingling those instances inside the Facebook environment. So, they’ve got a brand new environment, new data centers and a new name called”

Wang said it’s a trend that’s been happening for some time.

He notes that Amazon created a separate setup for Amazon AWS Cloud services, and Alibaba has successfully separated its enterprise cloud services from consumer services, too.

“We’re seeing this separation occur because there are different needs,” said Wang. “Consumer-grade is very different from enterprise-grade, especially when you have companies with trade secrets, lots of intellectual property and commentary they’d probably never want leaked.”

But that raises a question: doesn’t personal data deserve the same level of protection as businesses?

“Enterprise and consumer security should be at the same level. At this point today, it isn’t,” said Wang. “That’s one of the reasons there’s a separation. Maybe there’s a lot that’s going to be learned at Workplace that filters over to the regular Facebook.”

But in the end, businesses pay, while consumers get Facebook for free. The tradeoff is access to your personal data.

It’s a commodity—sold to advertisers who want to use that information to sell you something.