As well as individuals, companies large and small can be the victims of lax social media security. Accounts have been hacked, changed and used to spread political and scatological messages. Brands have been besmirched, and customers and prospects lost.
While large international corporations and other major players may be able to recover from these kinds of attacks easily enough, for the small business they can (and have) proved fatal.
So how can you counter these threats?
Getting out of social media is not a solution. More and more people are using this kind of media to follow companies and brands, to talk about them, and to decide whether to buy their products or services. The role of social media in marketing is expanding continuously and is set to stay. In fact it looks set to eventually overtake more traditional sales tools.
The reality of the threats is that most of the breaches of security that have happened so far were due to the business owner or an employee falling for simple scams… by opening suspicious emails or clicking through to rogue websites without a moment’s hesitation.
Here are a few simple things you can do to protect yourself and your business.
Education and training
You or your staff may lack the caution needed to use networks securely. The only solution in these circumstances is education and training.
Structured social media educational programmes that deliver training on the use of special tools and how you can do so securely are available. These come in a variety of formats, from brief how-to manuals to webinars.
You can find programmes that fit for your business and financial resources through Google.
Malicious links are a common way in which accounts are compromised. Caution is best, especially if links lead to pages that ask for usernames and passwords.
Thus a fundamental part of these educational programmes is training in how to recognise a suspicious messages, emails or links that could act as a gateway into your systems for a hacker.
In addition to improving basic security, these programmes can also help improve the overall performance of social media campaigns. Indeed, many of them deliver training in the more advanced aspects of social media such as attracting new clients.
If you and a member of your staff are sharing social media activities, you are likely to be sharing accounts and passwords. The more accounts you have, the more the passwords that will be shared.
How can you keep these passwords secure?
The answer is… with great difficulty. Here’s what you need to do:
First, you should create strong (complex) passwords, rather than relying on simple, very common passwords such as 12345etc or password. Password generating tools are available.
Secondly, you must make sure that passwords are never stored on shared computers, on mobile phones or in emails, nor on post-it notes or other scraps of paper.
Complex passwords can be hard to remember, especially where several are in use. You can reduce the number of passwords your staff uses by ensuring that they sign into your firm’s accounts using the same username and password as they use for their company email account.
This has the additional advantage that, should an employee leave, their access to all company media can be disabled in an instant. A disgruntled employee can wreak havoc through your social media accounts if he or she still has access.