Social media provides businesses massive promotion and advertising opportunities, with almost 60% of the world’s population using it. However, the very nature of social media networks encourages people to ignore potential threats, forget cybersecurity rules, and share privileged information. This can endanger businesses in several ways.
A business can expose itself to dangers by using social media in its official capacity. At the same time, your employees’ private use of social media can endanger your business in other ways.
How can you patch the risks without infringing on your employee’s rights and freedoms?
How to spot and patch cyber risks in your use of social media
Social networks are the ultimate examples of social engineering at scale. It taps into people’s insecurities to drive traffic, clicks, and sales. It’s an irresistible lure for many users, which can make these platforms very influential and dangerous.
1. Data breaches
Social media site security can fail spectacularly and spill the private details of their users online. Some examples are Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. They collect everything the users share or post to leverage it for advertisers. Marketing companies and business partners often sell or trade such information but neglect to treat it with the security it deserves. This data can quickly end up in the hands of unscrupulous users and cybercriminals.
2. Marketing staff missteps
The employees who manage your official social media accounts may have access to many private customer and company information. Hackers could steal the data without anyone noticing, but individuals could also inadvertently publish private information online.
3. Humiliation by association
Employees may be eager to associate their private social media accounts with your company, especially if it is a well-known brand. But if individuals get into trouble, break the law, or publicly criticize your company using insider information, your brand may get tainted by association. Formulating a company policy that sets out your expectations and rules is a good idea.
4. Brand Impersonation
Scammers create spoofed accounts to impersonate well-known companies. The idea is to trick victims into clicking on poisoned or malicious links or to provide private (often financial) information that can be used to make a quick buck. Besides harming the victims who fall for these scams, brand impersonation can have severe repercussions for the company being misrepresented. Scammers love social media and commonly use it to:
- Pose as charities and trick people into donating money
- Pose as legitimate companies to sell non-existent goods and services
- Pose as celebrities to sell fake products, such as Bitcoin scams
- Create fake profiles to lure victims into confiding personal information or sending money (catfishing)
5. Account hijacking
If your official social media account gets hacked and hijacked, it could cause embarrassment and even lasting reputational damage. It can happen to any company: Some high-profile victims include the US military’s Central Command and the New York Post.
6. Malware distribution
Social media is awash with poisoned and malicious links that will route the social media user to a website for automatic malware downloads. Once the victim connects to his company network, viruses, ransomware, or spyware can spread throughout the entire company. An advanced VPN with a link checker is the quickest remedy for this danger.
7. Penetrating networks by hacking individual employee accounts
Penetrating a company network often starts when a hacker takes over an employee’s social media account. This might yield enough information to take over an email account, which might give enough information to access documents and files on the company network. It’s a multi-stage process, but if the employee is slack about cybersecurity, it’s not all that hard to follow the chain of interleading accounts until the hacker hits the jackpot.
What steps can companies take to reduce the risk from social media?
Managing a company’s social media accounts is a big responsibility that carries risks for the company and the individual. It should be in the hands of a professional who knows the industry and can keep abreast of cybersecurity and other threats.
- Be on the lookout for spoofs of both private and company accounts. Report violations to the platform administrators immediately. Communicate any problems to your followers.
- Follow proper security protocols. Use a password management tool to create and maintain complex, secure passwords. Enable MFA and avoid account sharing.
- Always use a virtual private network (VPN) to access social media platforms. It adds an extra layer of security to prevent theft of login credentials and other private information.
- Regularly check the data sharing and security settings across platforms.
- Formulate a social media policy for employees because they probably use your devices to access their private accounts. Educate employees to adhere to cyber security rules and recognize phishing techniques.
- Encourage employees to narrow down connections to reduce suspicious affiliations and lessen the possibility of spear phishing attacks.
Social media provides businesses with many opportunities but also poses significant risks. While you can lay down the rules for the people who manage your social media presence, companies should also consider the risks when employees use social media as private individuals. It’s a good idea to approach the issue holistically to protect the its reputation and prevent cybersecurity risks from creeping into the company networks.