Your social media accounts may pose a threat—and you may not even know it
More than 77 percent of small businesses use social media to promote their offerings—and it’s easy to see why. Through social networking, companies can simultaneously market their products and services while building strong relationships with new and existing customers.
Though social media platforms offer companies a plethora of benefits, they can also be big threats to cybersecurity. From hacking users’ accounts to spreading malware via malicious links, cybercriminals are increasingly attacking individuals and companies alike on social media.
Even in the early days of social media, these platforms were a haven for hackers largely because users weren’t—and still aren’t—actively protecting their accounts. For most users, social media offers a means to talk with friends and family, share photos, or talk about the issues most important to them. They don’t take their presence on social media seriously, so they don’t prioritize their security on the platform.
Unfortunately, many business owners and executives are nonchalant about the security of their organizational accounts as well. They fail to inform their social media account managers and other employees about best security practices and, as a result, employees unknowingly attract cybercriminals. That’s why it’s crucial that both business owners and their team members know how to properly secure their social channels and avoid the common methods of attack employed by these bad actors.
How employees can sabotage a company’s cybersecurity
Anne M. Mulcahy, the former CEO of Xerox Corporation, famously said, “Employees are a company’s greatest asset.” When it comes to social media and cybersecurity, however, your employees can also be your greatest liability.
There was a time when workers kept their private and professional live separate, but those days are long gone. Today’s workers talk openly about their work lives, whether it be in person or on social media. Many of the posts employees share cast their employers in a positive light, but sometimes they unwittingly share sensitive or customer-related information or reveal private locations. This not only spells trouble for the company in terms of client confidentiality, but it could give hackers the information they need to socially engineer phishing emails and other attacks that cause significant damage.
Phishing and social media
While employees’ social media activity can increase the chances of a cyber-attack, these platforms are a hotbed for malicious activity in general. According to a recent study, one in five organizations have been infected with malware distributed via a social media platform.
One of the most common methods attackers use to spread malware or wreak other havoc on social media is through phishing. For years, phishing attacks were mainly distributed via email, but now attackers are using social media to install malware or get victims to divulge confidential information. While they can be difficult to spot, there are some simple ways for company owners and their employees to avoid phishing scams:
Don’t read fake news. If you see a shady news story, avoiding clicking on its accompanying post and instead check reliable sources for the facts.
Avoid bot accounts. A typical bot account frequently reposts items and doesn’t contribute anything relevant to a particular conversation or thread.
Disregard content from questionable ads. If the source is not reputable, it could also be a source for phishing attempts.
Don’t click links that you don’t trust. Links that contain random words and characters are often malicious.
General strategies to stay safe on social media
Successful cybersecurity starts with taking action. Here are a few ways you can improve your company’s social media security now:
Create a social media policy. This guide will outline how your business and its employees can use social media responsibly. Be sure to include rules related to copyright and confidentiality, how to identify scams and other malicious activity, and expectations for keeping devices and software updated.
Monitor vacant accounts. Even if you don’t actively use an account anymore, be sure to check in regularly. Cybercriminals often used vacant accounts to commit fraud or perform other illegal acts.
Secure mobile devices. While being able to access social media accounts on mobile devices is convenient, it’s not ideal for security. If you or an employee must access a platform via mobile, the device should be password-protected in case it’s lost or stolen.
Social media is an incredible tool for companies looking to promote their products and services, but utilizing it as a business comes with a responsibility to mitigate its threats. By practicing the right security measures and informing employees of best practices, companies can maintain a safe social platform presence.