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Social media gets single sign-on security

Last week we said we'd tell you about the security features of social knowledge networks, and today we start making good on our promise. Our first element: single sign-on.

Single sign-on (SSO) is a standard enterprise security method. It's a way to control access to a variety of software systems by using a single username/password combination.

When users enter the username and password, they are presented with a list of applications for which they are authorized to access by the sysem administrator. One of them is the organization's social knowledge network.

The benefits of SSO are numerous. But most importantly, it eliminates the need to remember and enter multiple usernames and passwords when switching to different applications in one computing session. And it better ensures usernames and passwords are strong, because users tend to pick guessable logins and use it for all of their applications.

These benefits are important because in a typical corporate or non-profit environment, there is a significant variety of software applications employees might access.

This includes order-entry systems, customer relationship management systems (CRM), intranets, product lifecycle management systems (PLM), business intelligence systems, human resources management systems, etc. The list goes on. SSOs provide centralized administrative control over all of these applications.

So when an organization deploys a social knowledge network across its system, it becomes protected by the same SSO, just like any other application. The social knowledge network employs the same single sign-on capabilities as your other enterprise applications.

However, this raises something of particular interest to me. In my experience working in the corporate world, the one set of applications I've used that typically does not fall under a company's single sign-on strategy is social networking tools. I'm talking about IM (Instant Messaging) apps, LinkedIn, and so forth. Why is this?

To me, the answer is people have long considered these tools to be outside the corporate or organizational environment, and therefore, it's not necessary to secure them with SSO. This belief is misplaced. People often use IM, for example, to communicate with their geographically dispersed colleagues.

While they are, in effect, using IM as a productivity tool to get their job done better and faster, they are using a different and less secure login than their corporate IT-certified SSO. But by protecting a social knowledge network using SSO, the social media technologies embedded in it gain the same enterprise security.

This ensures social interactions occurring through blogs, comments, ratings, tagging, and so forth, are kept well within the "four walls" of your organization, and are not subject to outside sniffing and penetration.

In this way, social knowledge networks form some of the best security for social media used in the enterprise.

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