When you first think of social media threats, what most people might point out are trolls, fake accounts and fake followers via purchased services, or maybe the “fake news” accusations flying about everywhere.
What’s often overlooked in social media security, though, is how it can be used to harm organizations and their customers via threats such as brand impersonation, fake corporate accounts, and phishing or ID theft scams that are all run via social media platforms.
The human element is a company’s greatest security vulnerability. Conversely, there is human activity online that is masked as typical social media activity. This is often where a high level of social engineering is at work, as criminals enact all manner of virtual scams and schemes aiming to harvest personal data or financial info for their profit.
Examples of Social Media Security Threats
- Posting links on Twitter on Facebook to direct people to websites that will download malware
- Using fake accounts to post fake promotions or discounts that set customers up for phishing scams
- Impersonating corporate CEOs to secure personal data from customers believing they’re speaking with an executive
- Communicate false information in order to manipulate a company’s stock price
- Build an unauthorized brand-related profile in order to sell it to the organization that wants control over their legitimate content
And those are just some of the more commonly known.
The Cost of Social Media Security Scams
When social media scams are successfully run, there can be an enormous price to pay, both by any company with a brand being abused and the customers of the organization.
- Financial Loss – Criminals can use social media scams to access corporate accounts and defraud unwary consumers of thousands of dollars, as well as enact credit card fraud before their ploys are detected and stopped.
- Customer Mistrust – Customers who discover a supposedly legitimate brand social account they’ve been following and interacting with is fake may not be willing to take chances on future engagement with that brand whatsoever.
- Brand Disruption – When a company is exposed for allowing social media cyber security threats to undermine their organization, the negative press can drive many prospects away while shrinking their customers base for good.
13 Social Media Security Best Practices
Here are 13 ways to establish a basis of social media security to protect your brand and your customers.
- Establish an official social media policy and ensure it is communicated across your whole organization. This is a document that outlines specifically how your organization as a whole and individual employees should conduct themselves when engaging in social media activity of any sort. It helps to establish a unified social media brand and provide guidelines for online messaging from a corporate perspective.
- Change your social media account passwords monthly. Randomize them, don’t repeat them, and don’t use common data points such as names, birthdays, or buzzwords.
- Use at least a two-step authentication method for accounts. This is an increasingly common secure login method that requires users take at least “two steps” to verify their identity before they gain access to an account, such as providing a password and then using a code texted to them on their account’s associated mobile device.
- Have a dedicated social media manager who constantly monitors account activity. This can be a full-time, in-house position or at least part-time, engaging someone on your digital team or a freelancer.
- Curate your connections, Friends or Followers to weed out fake accounts. Delete connections that seem fishy, post repetitive content, or constantly post negative or harmful content.
- Train all your employees on social media security awareness and procedures. This is a yearly investment in digital security that helps bolster the “human element” that is often a company’s most vulnerable sector in online fraud.
- Set up an approval process for all social media posts across all brand-related accounts (and have it managed by the person you establish to oversee your accounts).
- Invest in adequate security software or fully-managed service to provide an extra line of defense against hacking attempts, phishing scams, and likewise.
- Do not list company vacation times on social media. This sort of information might allow public knowledge of vulnerable periods where you don’t have staff on hand to handle a hacking attempt.
- Never post personal information, either of employees or customers. This lets you avoid potential identity theft or online impersonation.
- Proactively seek out and eliminate malicious posts and profiles. Examples of this include:
- Posts that include links leading to unauthorized sites bearing the company’s brand
- Profiles that support hate speech of any sort
- Social accounts that mimic CEO names without being officially registered
- Posts that encourage customers to download unauthorized content
- Posts that malign the brand or its customers
- Profiles claiming to speak for the company without legal confirmation
- Perform regular security audits that check elements such as your current security/privacy settings, user access, user publishing privileges, and current security threats.
- Close any accounts that are no longer used or have been inactive for a while, to avoid them being hacked and used to access and compromise active accounts.
Have you enacted any or all of these social media security strategies for your company? If you’re curious about other steps you can take to protect your brand against social media hackers and crooks, FraudWatch International provides comprehensive social media monitoring service that monitors for fraudulent activity and negates it faster than anyone else in the world.
Contact us today with any questions or concerns you may have about social media security.