Social media can act as an incredible tool of business owners. Businesses of all sizes can use a variety of social networks to help build their brand, attract customers, and direct traffic to your sites. Additionally, professional social networking sites like LinkedIn act as an extension of HR’s recruiting team to bring on new talent to apply to your business. However, it is essential that you use social media wisely in order to only reap these benefits and not succumb to the cyber risks that are out there. The best way to avoid the cyber threats that lurk online is to be aware of them. Below, we will take a look at some of the most common social media cybersecurity risks and vulnerabilities so that your business can navigate social media safely.
Phishing scams are some of the most common cyber threats out there. Many malicious actors have learned that social media can be a vessel for their attack. The primary way that businesses are put at risk by social media phishing scams is via direct messengers which many companies use to connect with their customers and followers. Phishers will send a seemingly legitimate message which is actually meant to hurt the recipient. The message may likely include a link or demand, as a phishing email would.
Businesses have some of the most valuable data out there because they not only have financial data for themselves and oftentimes customers, but they also have personally identifiable information (PII) for their employees and clients. PII can include social security numbers, birth dates, home addresses, and more and if this delicate information falls into the hands of a malicious person, it could spell major trouble. If your business does not prioritize cybersecurity when it comes to navigating the social media world, then you are putting your customers, employees, and reputation at risk should a data breach impact your company.
Most businesses utilize a social media marketing specialist or a social media manager. Though this individual will use plenty of tech to do this job, they are still human and may make mistakes — making mistakes is a part of being human, however not being extremely careful when scrolling through your business’ social media sites could spell disaster for your business. Human error could be in the form of the phishing example before where a naïve individual clicks a link that they think to be legitimate, thus giving the malicious actor access to the user’s computer via malware. If they are doing this on their work devices, which is to be expected if their job is managing social media for your business, then they are likely connected to your networks and their actions and now-infected computer put the rest of your company’s data at risk.
How to Strengthen Your Cybersecurity Defenses Against Social Media Risk
- Employee Training — Human error is one of the threats highlighted above; the best way to prevent this risk is by training employees in how to identify risks or threats as well as the company recommended best practices when it comes to social media. This applies not only to the social media marketing/management departments of a business but to personal accounts of employees who work for the company as well.
- Utilize Multi-Factor Authentication — In addition to using unique, strong passwords for every different social media site, it is crucial that multi-factor authentication is used whenever possible. This is the feature that most websites provide to users where you can get a one-time code sent to a linked email address or phone number. This adds a layer of protection to account logins that ensures that the user trying to access the account is a verified user.
- Consider outsourcing social media management — Particularly for small businesses, the option to outsource social media account management may be attractive because it allows you to create that strong social media presence that is necessary to grow a strong online following and presence without necessarily needing those skills to be in-house. Trusted professionals who work with businesses’ social media accounts as their job will likely already have a strong foundation for the cyber best practices necessary to navigate the online world safely and securely.
- Monitor use of your brand name and logos — Whether you opt to manage your social media presence in-house or through a company, it is important that use of your brand names and logos is monitored. This means that you want to ensure that no fake accounts are trying to steal your logo or branding for their own benefit. This could pose a risk to potentially damaging your company’s reputation.