How to Keep Your Social Media and Data Safe from External Threats
As more and more businesses make use of social media, security has become incredibly important. Your online account may share more information than you believe. While you may only have a certain number of posts, videos, and images set to public, your company’s social media account likely contains more information than this. You may have used the account to send private messages to customers, other businesses, and your employees. Your account details likely include private contact information for your social media expert. You may even have files and other data you’ve uploaded that is shared only with employees or specific individuals.
All of this means that your social media accounts need to be protected. Even if you’ve simply reserved accounts on some platforms and haven’t actually used those platforms, you still need to protect them. Hackers can potentially infiltrate these accounts and use them to spread damaging information about you or to send viruses to others using your name. Neither of those situations is ideal for your company. Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do to protect your social media accounts and the information on them from hackers and other outside threats.
Train Your Employees
If your employees aren’t trained in social media security, they’re likely to make a costly mistake. It’s not enough to simply tell employees to use strong passwords. Most know to create passwords that include capital letters, numbers, and special characters. However, many employees often make the mistake of using the same password on multiple accounts, making it much more likely that their password will be compromised.
Understanding Social Media Scams
Another area where employees need additional training is in recognizing the signs of a potential phishing scam or threat. While some phishing emails are obvious fakes, some look authentic. Employees should be trained on recognizing fake emails and files and be taught how to respond to a potential hack. Many employees who realize they may have clicked on a scam link never report it or believe simply closing the email or browser window is enough to protect their computer and the business’s network.
Unfortunately, social media has become one way that hackers perpetuate scams. Your employees not only have to recognize fake emails and other older phishing techniques, but they also have to understand social media phishing. One of your employees may see an article that looks like it would be relevant to your followers and consider sharing it. Before they do, they click the article only to find that it opens a completely different page full of malware and viruses.
One of the more common types of these fake posts takes on the form of a new article announcing a celebrity or famous media personality has died. People click the link wanting to learn more only to infect their computer. In some cases, users even share these articles before clicking on them, opening up their friends and followers to the scam. Other social media phishing scams claim users can get coupons or receive something for free by following a link and providing some personal information.
Imposter accounts are another way hackers try to use social media to get information from your employees or to infiltrate your network. Rather than trying to hack into someone’s account, hackers view all of a person’s public information and create a cloned profile. This often includes the person’s name and profile picture. They then try to get the person’s friends to become friends with their fake profile or send them messages asking for money. Employees must be careful when interacting with anyone online, especially if they don’t know the person well.
Lock Down Unsecured Devices
No one should be using unsecured devices on your network, but at most companies, employees are on their mobile devices all the time. They have these devices connected to the company’s Wi-Fi, which opens up the network to many threats. On top of that, if your employees use their own devices to post to your company social media, it creates a major security vulnerability. If their phone were to be lost or stolen, your accounts will be open to anyone who gains access to the phone.
Invest in Strong Security
Even if you know your employees understand social media and how to recognize scams, you still need security. Using open source antivirus will protect your network from viruses that come in through social media, email, and any other avenue. With open source software, your IT team can even go into the coding and tweak the antivirus program to add extra security where needed. You want to make certain your antivirus program also updates regularly so new threats are detected and dealt with.
Have a Social Media Policy
Nearly every business has a profile on at least one social media site, and most have three or four. But few companies put any thought into how these accounts should be managed or who should have access to them. Unfortunately, that leads to sloppy security, inconsistent PR, and even legal issues. You need to have a social media policy that outlines everything related to your social media accounts.
One thing that is absolutely vital to include in your social media policy is who has access to these accounts. Ideally, you will limit account access to only a few people, but that’s not always possible. Fortunately, there are tools out there that do allow you to assign roles and grant different types of access. For example, you can give someone access to create drafts of posts that require approval before they’re posted to any of your social media accounts. This gives only a few people the authority to post while allowing others to contribute to your social media presence.
Be Careful with Third Party Tools, Though
Unfortunately, while these third-party tools can allow you to more easily manage your social media, they also present their own risks. Hackers may target these tools rather than social media sites directly because their security may not be as strong. Be very careful in what third-party tools you allow to access your social media accounts.
Check the Privacy Settings
Are the privacy settings of each of your accounts set as outlined in your social media policy? If not, they need to be. But this is one of the areas of social media that needs to be checked often. Sometimes, a social media site will change their privacy settings or policies and actually make changes to your profile. Other times, a hacker who has gained access to your account may change your privacy settings. Employees could also accidentally make changes without even realizing what they’ve done.
This means you need to audit your social media settings on a regular basis to ensure that nothing has changed.
Have a Designated Social Media Head
Many of the tips listed above really only work if you have one person who is your top social media expert. This person is the one who decides who gets access to the accounts, what gets posted where, and how often things are posted. They’re also the person to report potential security threats to and who should audit your social media profiles regularly for issues. This even includes looking at what has been posted and what customers are saying about your business.
Overall, dealing with social media security is something fairly new, but it’s also something that you must make use of in order to protect your business from external threats.