A recent survey, which looked at 500 public sector IT staff in the UK, found that 14 percent have no social media policy at all that public sector employees must adhere to. This means that many workers within the public sector – have never seen a social media policy.

With Facebook being used by half the UK population, equating to 30 million, and Twitter being used by 13 percent of the population, 7 million people, the potential to inadvertently leak proprietary data through these channels is huge.

Given that the public sector is the largest UK employer, with roughly 6.2 million employees and 506,000 of these working in the civil service alone, the issue of implementing policies to manage online interactions is of crucial importance for the security of the UK government.

It’s an on-going challenge for IT managers in any enterprise to find the right balance between empowering staff to take advantage of the latest technology and ensuring that sensitive corporate data is not laid wide open to attack – and this concern can be even more pronounced in the public sector, where private citizen’s data could be at risk.

ICT security policies are a moving target at the moment, especially with social networking, which is changing and evolving all the time. However, setting out consistent clear policies across the whole of the UK and empowering staff to make the right decisions will be key to their success.

Social networking has moved beyond strictly personal use. What employees share online can now be of great importance to public sector organisations, especially if it’s proprietary or confidential information. Education on privacy settings, what can and cannot be shared publically, will help prevent data breeches and potentially embarrassing situations across the whole of the public sector.