Almost no business or creator can eke out a viable existence today without the help of social media. Social networks have become a critical tool in building brand identity, revenue generation, and customer reach and management. But it can also be a thorn in the side of any business that doesn’t manage social media security the risks attached to having an online identity..
Sadly, the world gets more politically polarized by the year, and to top that off, the new war isn’t being fought IRL (in real life). Instead, it’s being fought via screens and keyboards, and there are many little ‘wars’ and even more determined bad actors to contend with.
This can seem chaotic to the point of frustration. However, a company that manages to navigate this minefield and mitigate all of the social media security risks that present themselves will come out on top.
Knowing how to navigate social platforms correctly and planning for emergencies instead of waiting for them to happen makes all of the difference. Don’t know how to do that? Don’t worry! This guide has everything covered.
What makes social media so dangerous?
From data phishing to account takeovers and more, there’s a lot to contend with for companies on social media. Some threats are more prominent on one social platform compared to another, but generally, just having a social account is already an inherent risk. Admittedly, one worth having, but still.
Third-party application access
Third-party apps are part and parcel for many social platforms, as they provide vendor duties and other integrated functions. However, many people – and by extension businesses – don’t realize that they’re opting into these services when they create social profiles.
These third-party vendors often get access to a lot of sensitive data, which can include company IP. On top of that, social platforms like Facebook have proven to be ruthless in their data-gathering activities; this can span an astounding amount of employee’s online activities and company data.
It’s not uncommon for teams across a marketing department, or even an entire business if it’s an SME, to share the logins of various accounts. Often, multiple people need to have access to the company’s (or clients’) social accounts as part of their duties. The problem is, sharing login details among so many people increases the attack vector of those accounts exponentially.
Because now, attackers have many more opportunities to target a multitude of people and there are more chances of human error. And as many cybersecurity experts have lamented over the years, the human factor is often the biggest security risk in business.
Social media security and influencer marketing
Influencers might be the hottest thing in marketing right now, thanks to their genuine appeal and vested reach, but they can be a security concern too. Not only is another outsider getting access to company IP, but they’re linking their image with the company brand.
Normally, that’s a good thing. After all, it’s why a brand decides to partner up with an influencer. But there’s always that underlying concern of choosing the wrong person and spoiling the company’s brand image. Social media can be an incredibly fickle space and even geography can be a big influence on how an influencer is received. They might do or say something that doesn’t align with the brand and it can seriously hurt the brand.
So much so to the point where, in today’s cancel-culture, if the influencer comes under fire then the company could become a target too. Not just in terms of vehement online backlash, but potentially from hackers too. Malicious individuals have gone as far as harassing and doxxing corporate entities because of the cancel culture phenomenon.
It’s a tricky space, which is why many companies have started reaching out to agencies that manage influencers to help them make the right decision. Alternatively, use an influencer marketing platform to find influencers and thoroughly analyze their profiles before reaching out for a collaboration. That way, the influencers they work with have at least been vetted in some way, decreasing the risk of turning vitriol from the masses back onto the company.
Social media security tips
Despite all of the potential dangers that come along with engaging on social platforms, there are plenty of things companies can do to mitigate the risks. When it comes to cybersecurity, even dealing with many unknown factors like those that social media presents, it’s best to be prepared. Here are some things businesses can do to make themselves smaller targets for criminals, hackers, and other online pitfalls.
1. Secure those passwords
Password security sounds deceptively simple and that’s where the problem lies. Unfortunately, until a better option comes along, passwords are practically the only barrier keeping most accounts safe. That means companies need to be vigilant with how they manage passwords.
If necessary, use a password manager to keep all those passwords locked away in a secure vault. When it comes to sharing accounts among team members, a password manager can be an invaluable tool. Many password managers offer enterprise accounts that enable password sharing across multiple people without compromising on security.
Also, be sure to keep best practices in mind when it comes to password creation.
2. Set up multi-factor authentication
The only way to keep an account protected if a password has been compromised is through multi-factor authentication. Many people know this as security questions and/or a one-time pin (OTP). Be sure to set this up for every account as an additional layer of protection.
3. Train employees in cyber best practices
It’s unlikely that companies will ever be able to rid themselves of the human risk factor entirely, but cybersecurity training has become fundamental to ensuring data security. The training should include best practices that cover the do’s & don’ts, and the variety of risk factors they can encounter. Make a point to set up recurring annual meetings to keep these concepts top of mind for employees and provide updated information.
4. Set up security protocols
In addition to training, companies also have to put a set of security protocols in place. These need to cover best practices as well as what employees need to do in case of uncertainty or in an emergency. Such as if an employee suspects they’ve been the victim of a phishing scam, who do they notify, and what needs to be done about it?
5. Be cautious with posts & partnerships
Dealing with public opinion is like navigating a minefield, and its incredibly difficult to keep everyone happy. Some would even say it’s impossible. And yet, it’s still important to vet every post and potential influencer partner before giving the go-ahead on anything. If necessary, this should include posts from employees. Even the company’s owner’s posts should be vetted, if Elon Musk’s tweets and their influence on Tesla stock prices are anything to go by.
Businesses that fail to do so could land in hot water with either tone-deaf posts or partnerships that mar the good name of the brand.
6. The block button can be a valuable asset
Social media teams often underestimate the power of blocking people on social media, but it can be a fantastic tool. Not only will it make their lives much less troll-infested, but it will lessen the chance of scam comments and DM phishing attempts. Of course, this doesn’t count for legitimate issues with existing/potential customers.
7. Have a contingency plan
Don’t wait for things to go wrong. Plan ahead for known possibilities, like what to do if the company’s social account(s) get hacked? The web has plenty of examples of social media contingency plans that can be adopted and adapted as necessary to fit the business structure.
The risks associated with social media security aren’t exactly news to anyone anymore, and no one can stick their head in the sand and pretend these don’t exist. The only way to overcome social media cybersecurity issues is to meet them head-on and be prepared. It is impossible to prepare for everything. But a company can be prepared to handle anything.