Employers are increasingly implementing programmes to monitor how their employees use social media, according to research by Gartner.
Gartner research predicts that 60% of businesses will implement programmes to monitor external social media for security risks by 2015.
Even though many organisations use social media monitoring for brand and marketing purposes less than 10% actually use social media as part of their security monitoring programme.
"The growth in monitoring employee behaviour in digital environments is increasingly enabled by new technology and services," says Andrew Walls, research vice president at Gartner. "Surveillance of individuals, however, can both mitigate and create risk, which must be managed carefully to comply with ethical and legal standards."
Many organisations have focused on social media behaviour within the work environment but some say that to fully protect a company’s IT security infrastructure control should be expanded to outside the internal work environment.
"Security monitoring and surveillance must follow enterprise information assets and work processes into whichever technical environments are used by employees to execute work," says Walls.
"Security monitoring must focus on employee actions and behaviour wherever the employees pursue business-related interactions on digital systems. In other words, the development of effective security intelligence and control depends on the ability to capture and analyse user actions that take place inside and outside of the enterprise IT environment."
Gartner predicts that employers monitoring the social media conversations of their employees will continue to increase.
Gartner research also points out that security organisations are also seeing the value of social media sites in strengthening security surveillance.
Security firms can leverage social media to spot security threats from hacktivist from postings on the site as well as threats of a more physical nature like plans to harm facilities or personnel.
Walls says that early detection of risks and proper social media surveillance tools allows an organisation to minimise negative security impacts; some of which can be leaked by accident from employees.
"The problem lies in the ability of surveillance tools and methods to produce large volumes of irrelevant information," he says.
"This personal information can be exposed accidentally or become the target of voyeuristic behaviour by security staff."