Security Experts:

New IBM Security Appliance To Address Web, Social Media Risks

IBM announced on Tuesday that it would be launching a new class of security appliance that targets the risks associated with social media.

The IBM Security Network Protection XGS 5000 will focus on Web risk, but it is being pitched as a solution that will help organizations manage social media and other BYOD types of problems.

BYOD, or Bring Your Own Device, is really a buzz term that addresses the fact that IT is no longer separated by the company’s hardware and the employee’s hardware. Why? It's simple - most staffers don’t mind working on a company email or document from home or their smartphone / tablet. This scares some network administrators, and the boom in mobile computing created a great market for security firms to sell to.

IBM SecurityNo one in IT has ever been fired for purchasing IBM. So the announcement of their XGS 5000 appliance addresses the fear, uncertainty, doubt, panic, and confusion that many organizations have over the BYOD phenomenon. IBM takes an interesting path in their marketing too, as they center on social media as the named Web risk.

The use of social media is becoming increasingly critical in helping companies achieve their business goals, IBM marketing explains. “In fact, more than half of Fortune 500 companies have an active corporate Facebook or Twitter presence. At the same time, more and more companies are allowing employees to access their personal social media sites from work, and BYOD is increasingly prevalent, whether supported by corporate policy or not.”

This statement is backed by findings from the Ponemon Institute, reporting that 70% of global respondents name social media as an important part of their business objectives; and the 63% who said social media places their organization at serious risk.

You may not need a fancy appliance to cover your exposure to social media risks, however. In fact, most of those organizations who spoke to the Ponemon Institute manage their risks just fine with policy and other mitigations such as DLP, strict monitoring, and controlled corporate communications on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

In fact, based on how IBM explains the XGS 5000, the company is releasing a massive tool for Web policy management, one that supports intelligence related to applications and websites with an index of more than 15 billion URLs, and more than 1,000 named applications.

If an organization doesn’t already have a plan in place to deal with the risks associated with social media risks, then there are plenty of ways to address that. The first would be to understand what risks are unique to the organization, and what risks are constant. From there, dealing with them will likely come from something other than a one-size-fits-all solution.

On the other hand, sometimes it is easier to get a box and let it do the heavy lifting – reducing the overhead on an already strained IT department. Again, no one has ever been fired for purchasing IBM solutions.

The XGS 5000, with a list price of $49,600, will be available to the open market in Q3 2012. 

Steve Ragan is a security reporter and contributor for SecurityWeek. Prior to joining the journalism world in 2005, he spent 15 years as a freelance IT contractor focused on endpoint security and security training.