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New Zealand: Mitigating Security Risks of Social Networking Apps on Official Devices

The New Zealand government’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has issued regulations on using social networking apps on official devices. The risks that social networking apps may pose to government agencies are highlighted in the recommendations.

New Zealand government agencies can get guidance on the pros and cons of downloading and using social networking applications on official phones and other devices from the government’s cyber resilience advisory service. The social network profile and app have security risks, particularly concerning information stored on connected mobile devices.

Like any other software, security in social networking applications’ is not a given. Using a social media network via its website differs from using a downloadable app for that platform. Due to broad permissions requirements, the apps are susceptible to the theft of confidential information, including customer lists, emails, and documents.

NCSC claimed their recommendations “will assist agency security and risk personnel in better comprehending, evaluating, and approving social media apps for use within their agency where necessary.” The next step is to consider ways to lessen those dangers after you’ve catalogued them and figured out how you’ll put social media to use.

When employees use their own devices to download social networking apps, the agency risks exposing sensitive data to the public. While mobile device management software can help mitigate some security threats, it may not prevent others, such as those posed by apps that request permission to access sensitive information or the camera and microphone.

Since it can be hard to change an app’s permissions, NCSC suggested considering managing the device and the employee’s access to company data. Limiting the amount of sensitive company data loaded or stored on devices housing social media apps and limiting the ability of other apps to access that data are one of the solutions. Instead of trying to modify the app itself, government agencies should focus on restricting access to critical information stored on mobile devices.

Agencies must carefully consider who can install social networking apps on company devices, why, and how to mitigate risks. “Carefully consider selections about who may set up social media apps on business gadgets for what intent, and how you can mitigate the associated risks,” according to the published document.

Earlier, NCSC proposed strengthening smart cities’ cyber defences. Threat actors are drawn to smart cities because of their opportunities to exploit weaknesses in the artificial intelligence (AI)-powered software platforms that combine data from people, corporations, and government organisations. It is why a panel of top cybersecurity professionals developed smart city security guidelines. The guidelines are meant to improve smart cities’ cyber protection.

While moving government operations online has the potential to improve productivity and resiliency, it is essential to identify and mitigate any associated cybersecurity risks. The vulnerabilities in digitally connected systems and their vast data sets are a hazard because of the potential financial and political value that national governments, cybercriminals, hacktivists, insider threats, and terrorists might obtain from exploiting them for espionage purposes.

Meanwhile, to help private sector businesses improve cybersecurity and protect customers from cyber-attacks, New Zealand is working with authorities from six other nations to issue new recommendations for software developers. The guidance highlighted the significance of providing certain goods by default and design.

The combined recommendations urge the software industry to update its design and development processes to ensure that only secure-by-design and secure-by-default solutions reach consumers. One of the underlying themes of the recommendations is that software vendors should be responsible for the security results of their products rather than consumers.


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