When taking steps to maintain cyber security, it’s not only your website and email that you want to secure but also your social media accounts. Cyber-attacks are a risk for your business as well as to the privacy and security of your followers. Unsure about the security of your Social Media accounts? Contact our Cyber Security Department today!
Risks to Social Media Accounts
While people often think about cyber security concerning websites, it’s also necessary to keep this in mind when using social media. As sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and others get vast amounts of traffic, it’s increasingly tempting for hackers to target these platforms. Businesses also face significant challenges in this area. If you have a business, your finances, reputation and customers’ security are all at risk. Some of the dangers include:
• Identity theft. This is a potentially devastating problem. Identity thieves use personal information to steal money, commit crimes or simply out of malice. Anywhere online that you store personal information, including social media sites, is a potential gold mine for identity thieves.
• Account hacking. When hackers gain control of your account, they can post anything they want. Many hackers do this simply for fun. For a business, however, there’s nothing fun about the hit to your reputation if someone posts offensive content under your name.
• Malware. These programs are often used for spamming, to collect information, or to deliberately harm someone’s computer. Social media sites are full of links to malware. If you and your employees aren’t careful, it’s easy to infect your computer when someone clicks on such a link from one of your social media accounts.
• Phishing scams. This is a type of scam where hackers impersonate a legitimate company for malicious purposes. One danger is that someone will impersonate your business to scam your customers. Another is that someone in your company falls victim to a phishing attack and compromises your information.
These are some of the most common security risks on social media. In some cases, attacks are from random hackers. Businesses, however, also face threats from unscrupulous competitors, dissatisfied and vengeful customers, and ex-employees.
How to Safeguard Your Social Media Accounts
There are risks every time you access the internet. However, certain precautions make you safer. Here are some of the best ways to keep yourself safe on social media.
• Monitor your accounts. If your business is active on social media, you probably log in regularly to your accounts anyway. If you’re lagging behind on one or more sites, however, make sure you periodically check in to at least make sure everything looks good. If someone has hacked into your account, you want to know about it as soon as possible.
• Have a strict social media policy. You put your business at risk with social media practices are too casual or undefined. For example, it’s best to have a dedicated team in charge of social media rather than giving everyone access to your accounts. Putting an expert in charge helps to keep you safer and helps you maintain a consistent policy. Make sure you have clear rules about what your employees can and cannot do on social media sites. You might, for example, tell employees not to post personal information on your company account. Also set rules on sharing content and clicking on links.
• Keep your passwords secure. Make sure all of your passwords are complex and hard to guess. Never use simple sequences of numbers, personal names, or dates. Use a unique password for each site (i.e., don’t use the same password on Facebook, Twitter, etc.) Only reveal passwords to people who need access to social media accounts. Whenever an employee with password access leaves your business (or when an agency or freelancer completes a project), change your passwords.
• Use two-factor authentication. Two-factor authentication is an important step that makes your accounts more secure. That is an extra step needed to access your accounts, such as a question (e.g., “What was the name of your first pet?”), an image, or a verification code.
Site-specific Tips for Social Media Security
While certain cyber security principles apply everywhere, there are also specific differences between the different sites. Here are some things to keep in mind on some of the most popular social media platforms.
• Facebook — Check out Facebook’s extra security features such as setting up login approvals, which is an example of two-factor authentication where you need an additional step to log in. Turn on login alerts, so you know when someone logs into your Facebook account from a new device or location.
• Twitter — Go to privacy and safety settings. The most important settings here are “verify login requests” and “require personal information to reset my password.” Without these precautions, anyone can change your password. You may also want to disable “add a location.” Clicking on “protect my tweets” means only people who follow you see your tweets. As a business, of course, there are reasons to keep your tweets public.
• LinkedIn – On LinkedIn’s privacy settings, there are quite a few options, such as deciding who can see your updates and connections. Here it’s up to you to find the right balance between privacy and visibility. Turn on two-step verification to secure your account. Because LinkedIn is a B2B network, you have to watch for hackers putting up fake company profiles or people falsely claiming to work for you. One way to reduce risks here is only to accept invitations to connect with people you know.
In some ways, it’s more challenging for businesses to secure their accounts than individuals. You don’t want to keep your posts and business information private as you obviously want to attract publicity. However, it’s still important to use caution and make sure you make it difficult for anyone to hack into your account or steal your information. Keep these guidelines in mind and make sure that all of your employees use common sense and are well-trained in basic cyber security principles.