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I spy with my beady eye ...

8 Oct 2020

Is Facebook an asset?

Yet another good question came up on the ISO27k Forum today*. Someone asked whether to add the company's Facebook page to their information asset register (implying that it would need to be risk-assessed and secured using the Information Security Management System processes), or whether the asset should be the Facebook account (ID and password, I guess)**.

From the marketing/corporate perspective, good customer relations are perhaps the most valuable information assets of all, along with other external relations (e.g. your suppliers, partners, prospective and former customers, regulators/authorities and owners) and internal relations (the workforce, including staff, management, contractors, consultants and temps, plus former and prospective workers). It’s tempting to think of these as just categories or faceless corporations, but in reality the interactions are between individual human beings, so social relations in general are extremely important in business. 

There are numerous mechanisms that generate, support and maintain good customer relations, Facebook for example. Likewise for other relations (e.g. ISO27k Forum!). You might think of them as simply apps or information services, often cloud based, often commercial services provided by third parties hence limiting what is on offer and your options or influence over the infosec, privacy and other requirements. 

There are also related processes and activities, some of which have infosec, privacy and other implications e.g. I have a bank pestering me right now for identification info which they need from me as part of the anti money laundering regs: it’s a pain for me and for them, but they have to comply with the laws and regs. Workforce relationship management and ‘industrial relations’ is a huge part of ‘management’, with governance, compliance and other implications and risks. Overall, relationship management is, clearly, an important part of business success, or indeed failure when things go horribly wrong (e.g. look up the Ratners jewelers fiasco in the UK, and just look around at the difficulties arising from COVID-19: our people and myriad relationships are under extreme stress this year, not just our organisations).

Summing up, I encourage everyone to think big in terms of the scope of information assets, with a strong emphasis on the information that matters most to the business, the organization, and its strategic objectives. The IT systems and services are merely business tools: what matters most is the business information generated/processed by them.

* As I've said before, it's funny how often a simple, seemingly basic or naive question on ISO27k Forum leads to something more revealing when the answers and debate start flowing: such is the power of social media! 

** My answer to the original question is "Both ... and more besides"! It was a false dichotomy.