Risk of leaking business secrets


A lot has been written of how much social networking online can rev up your life, throw new opportunities your way and even land you a plum assignment. But little has been documented of the downside to online networking.

RR, a marketing executive in a telecom company, is a case in point. Since the time he caught the networking bug, he signed up on a couple of sites like www.orkut.com, www.myspace.com and www.ryze.com. Essentially, these are places where like minded people band together and share details of their common interests.

More recently, placement agencies have started to trawl these sites—ostensibly because in social networking sites, people speak the truth about themselves. That makes it easy for agencies to latch on to the kind of people they are looking for.

Coming back to RR, during the course of what he thought was a fairly harmless conversation he let out details of a deal that his company was working on. Unfortunately for him, the friend happened to be a sniper from a rival company. It cost RR’s company one of its biggest tenders.

This is not a one off instance. Social networking sites are no longer just about trivial pursuits like dating or hobby-related hookups. They are also turning into powerful professional networking tools.

This is essentially because more often than you pick friends online depending on areas of interest which normally over lap with your professional life.

Take Ryze for instance. People on this network come online for professional networking. Here members can post their profiles and bio-data and specify their areas of interest. If somebody else has that same interest they can send you a message on your guest book. People get talking from here and make like minded friends.

This has become an online substitute of local coffee shops, where you hang out with friends and discuss everything under the sun. Inevitably you tend to talk about work too and it is not hard to fathom why “it is scary�.

One of the first lessons in any business is, to control the flow of information. These social networking circles are making it very difficult, and that’s very frightening. This can become disastrous especially in India which is the hub of outsourcing industry. And youngsters working in BPOs usually have sensitive data in their hands such as financial records, health data and such.

Education is the only way to deal with this danger and some companies are already gearing up for the dangers. Not only are these sites off-limits within the company, but they have also started conducting training sessions for all their employees.