Web 2.0 and cybersecurity

The term Web 2.0 was coined by Darcy DiNucci, an information architecture consultant, and was popularised by Tim O’Reilly founder of O'Reilly Media. It is defined as the use of Internet applications which allow sharing and collaboration characterised specifically by the change from static to dynamic or user-generated content and the growth of social media platforms. Web 2.0 websites thus enable users to create, share, collaborate and communicate their work with others, without having web design or publishing skills.

Since it stimulates interactivity, enterprises benefit from the increased engagement between employees and consumers through almost synchronously communication at a lower cost. Specifically, Web 2.0 technologies and tools allow greater employee participation in projects and idea-sharing, strengthening relationships with customers, and improving communications with partners. Web 2.0 sites are thus essential for the next generation of employees, or Employee 2.0, entering the workforce expecting technology they routinely use as a part of their working environment. This increasing trend forces managers and senior employees to rethink the significance of the participative culture as a vital part of young employees’ lives and they need to make decisions about their corporate culture and security.

Web 2.0 security vulnerabilities

The growing popularity Web 2.0 sites has proportionally increased the risk of malware attacks and data leakage when companies allow employees to access social networking sites through corporate computers. Social networking sites enable self-publishing and high interaction between users and attract large numbers of visitors, making them extremely attractive to hackers. Since Web 2.0 platforms enable anyone to upload content, these sites are susceptible to hackers wishing to upload malicious content.

The same technologies that invite user participation also make them easier to corrupt with malware such as worms that can shut down corporate networks, or spyware and keystroke loggers that can steal company data. Further, with the ability to post photos, video, and audio recordings to sites, employees can inadvertently ‘leak’ confidential company information.

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Thus, although Web 2.0 offers enriches the Internet by improving user experience and creating web-based communities, it may lead to new propagation methods for malicious code. Companies do not normally block users from visiting Web 2.0 sites, and it may become an IT security risk since they may be hiding malicious code. Companies should adopt a multi-layered approach involving both proactive and reactive IT security technologies. Security teams need to address Web 2.0 threats in their desktop clients, protocols and transmissions, information sources and structures, and server weaknesses.

Web 2.0 security risks may threaten confidential data, but smart security managers can also leverage them to enhance security awareness throughout an organisation and build convergence with key decision makers and leaders. There are many vendors and solutions that promise to mitigate and solve the threat of data loss in Web 2.0 environment. Data loss prevention is an umbrella for many different technologies and strategies. Data loss can be prevented by encryption and port blocking or content filtering. By implementing an outbound content management program that reduces, mitigates, and eliminates data loss companies can successfully detect sensitive information in the outbound mail system.

Web 2.0 Security Strategies

Validation of User-Input

When using interactive Web applications, users must validate their access a user-input validation screen. The screen provides the user with authorised access to interactive Web applications that are used by the organisation.

Default Configurations

Web servers are designed with default configurations that companies often neglect to reconfigure. The configuration includes administrative tools that are used with the Web 2.0 applications. If the default configurations are left in place, it is easy for hackers to detect weaknesses and exploit them.

Encryption

Web 2.0 applications can be intercepted by unauthorised users and companies need to implement encryption practices to secure the data.

Protected Servers

Online storage makes it easier for users to access data from any location if they have access to an Internet connection. Although online storage has improved productivity, companies should implement strategies for securing the data on a protected server.

 

Application Changes

Companies should test and evaluate applications for any weaknesses that have occurred because of the changes or upgrades to the application. It is also necessary to keep the Web server updated with the latest security patches to ensure the data in the application is protected.

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