Do You Know What Your Team Is Telling The World?

IT managers need to know what their team may be telling the world
IT managers need to know what their team may be telling the world
Image Credit: Fredrik Linge

Would it be fair to say that what your IT team is working on is top secret? In most cases the answer to this question would be probably be no. However, the companies that your company competes with would probably like to know what your team is doing and what business problems you are trying to solve. What this means is that as an IT manager it’s going to be your job to use your IT manager skills to keep a lid on what’s going on.

It’s All About Corporate Culture

It turns out that how you treat your team members can have a big impact on how much information about your projects leaks out of your team. Talk to any security expert and they’ll tell you that it’s the human factors that are always the weakest part of any information security program.

Studies have shown that workers who feel that their employer mistreats them will be more likely to talk with other people and share things that they really should not. One way that they talk about in our IT manager training that an IT manager can help put a stop to this is by requiring everyone to sign a non-disclosure agreement. However, the effectiveness of this is questionable and they can be difficult to enforce across an entire team.

Know Who You Are Talking To

There can be a lot of people on the outside who are trying to find out what’s going on in the inside of your company. As an IT manager, you need to understand that they will be using a wide variety of different tactics to pry information out of the members of your team. You need to understand how they operate and take steps to protect your information.

Forget all of the fancy stuff that you see in the movies, it often turns out that getting information out of someone is as simple as placing a phone call. The bad guys often use that Internet thing to get the work phone numbers of members of your team. When they call, they block their Caller ID so the person who picks up can’t tell who’s really calling them. Additionally, if the bad guys reach out via email, they’ll generally not use their corporate email but rather a Gmail or other free pubic email account.

Keep It Under Wraps

As silly as it sounds, sometimes your own corporate web site can be the source of information leaks about your team and what it is working on. The way that this can happen can be quite varied. It can be as simple as a photo of the team being put on the site with a caption that identifies them as being part of the “Advanced Projects Team”.

What you are going to want to do about is to be very vigilant about policing the company’s website. This means that you’re going to have to look beyond the homepage and dive deep into the company website. You might even want to enlist some web robots in order to restrict how much of your company website gets crawled by outside sites.

Social Media May Not Be Your Friend

These days, social media comes in many different shapes and forms. The members of your team undoubtedly use social media in some fashion. You are not going to be about to stop this from happening, but perhaps you can exert some control over what they choose to post there.

Making sure that confidential information on who is on your team and what everyone is currently working on can be a secret if your ask your team for their help. During your next IT team building activity, ask team members to keep what you would consider to be confidential data out of their profiles on the various social media services. This can go a long way in shutting the door on any information leaks that may be occurring.

What All Of This Means For You

Your IT team is doing important work for the company. What this means is that outsiders just might be interested in who is on your team and what they are currently working on. As an IT manager, it’s going to be your responsibility to find ways to help your team to keep your private information private.

In order to accomplish this, you are going to have to start by treating members of your team well. A positive corporate culture will reduce the tenancy of team members to talk to outsiders. Next, you need to remind your team members to always make sure that they know who they are talking or emailing with. Make sure that no private information has found its way to the corporate website. Finally, remind everyone on your team that they need to be very careful what they share via social media.

No, you and your IT team may not be working an a top secret project right now. However, what you are working on is valuable to the company. As the manager of your team, it’s your responsibility to make sure that that only authorized parties find out what your team is up to. Take the simple steps that we’ve discussed to keep a lid on information leakage and your company won’t experience any nasty surprises when it comes to your IT projects!

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: Do you think IT managers should check out team member’s social profiles to make sure nothing that shouldn’t be there is there?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

If I asked you based on your IT manager training what the most powerful thing that you could say as a part of your job, what would you tell me? “You’re fired?” “You’re hired?” Both of those would be good guesses, but they would be wrong. It turns out that the most powerful thing than any of us IT managers can say is – “no”.