Why BeReal poses security risks at work
This story was first reported on, and published by, Digiday sibling WorkLife
Close the tabs on your computer first.
That’s the advice that workforce experts have given to employees who are using BeReal, a new photo-sharing social media app that prompts its users to snap a pic at randomly chosen times of day, then share it with a network of friends. However, if that notification appears while a person is in front of their work computer, it could lead to a serious privacy breach for a company, security experts have warned.
That’s because the app simultaneously captures their surroundings on the front and back camera. A quick scroll through the BeReal app is enough to see that during the work week, it’s not unusual to see images of people’s computer screens with their email inbox on display or an assignment that person is currently working on, in the background.
Part of BeReal’s appeal and its differentiation from other social media platforms is the spontaneity and lack of planning for what is shared. But that presents its own challenges, namely, if a person isn’t being mindful of what sensitive company details their camera may pick up, it could leave employers vulnerable to fraudsters.
“Any place where people can share content, people are going to make mistakes or they’re going to make not-great decisions sometimes,” said Josh Yavor, chief information security officer at email security platform Tessian. “There will be folks who are there to take advantage of that, and for what purpose – that really depends.”
Some users are already savvy to this potential privacy breach. ”I make sure nothing crazy is up, and if it is I will switch the tab,” an BeReal user, who agreed to speak with WorkLife on condition of anonymity. They added that they hadn’t received guidance from their employer but figured it was the responsible thing to do.
Employers will have to hope that the majority of their employees who use the app, are as mindful. “There has to be some element in any social media policy that you have responsible, smart people who have common sense who are employed at your company,” said Mae Karwowski, CEO of influencer marketing agency Obviously. “You have two minutes to capture that BeReal, you can minimize that window.”
It wouldn’t be the first time hackers have taken advantage of the rise of remote working and any technology weak spots that have surfaced as a direct result. Earlier this year, security experts warned that hackers were infiltrating Zoom and Microsoft Teams meetings to eavesdrop on commercially sensitive information and scam employees. And while there haven’t been any reports of individuals using BeReal to learn company information, it may only be a matter of time.
Yavor believes it is inevitable that individuals will take advantage of users if they find a weak spot – on any platform, not just BeReal. He said a good rule of thumb is to ask yourself whether you would be content to have …read more