By: Dan Reith BA(Hons) CAIB
Reith & Associates Insurance and Financial Services Limited
While social media can help organizations engage with customers and expand their reach, using it comes with potential risks. These risks can range from minor damages to your brand image to major cyber attacks that target sensitive information, resulting in costly recovery and lawsuits. The following are some of the biggest risks associated with using social media as well as tips to avoid them.
One of the biggest risks to any organization’s social media security is its employees themselves. User error, a lack of education and carelessness can all become incredibly costly when dealing with social media.
As such, it’s important to invest time in developing a social media policy that clearly outlines the purpose, procedures and expectations of appropriate social media use. Additionally, employees need to be educated on the importance of this policy, as well as the threats that social media poses and how to identify them. Regulate the number of people with access to official social media accounts to only those who are educated, trusted and absolutely necessary for daily operations.
SCAMS AND PHISHING ATTACKS
Like with any other form of internet use, scams and phishing attacks are a constant risk when dealing with social media. Malicious links disguised as news reports, videos or familiar social media accounts could be used to trick users into sharing secure information.
Be wary of any links that appear suspicious, and never disseminate secure information in a way other than it is intended to be shared by policy. Knowing how to identify suspicious links or web pages can be the difference between an incredibly costly mistake and a near miss. For example, shortened URLs found on Twitter may link to webpages built to look identical to familiar websites, and third-party applications may be designed to reveal the user’s private information to a third party.
UNSECURED MOBILE DEVICES
Most social network access is through mobile devices, and, while some organizations may issue company-owned devices for this purpose, the organization’s social media accounts are most often accessed by the employees’ devices themselves. The fact that these devices travel everywhere with the employees makes them especially vulnerable to potentially unwanted or inappropriate access.
All mobile devices with social media access should be locked with a password when not in use. Doing so can protect private information from falling into the wrong hands in the event that an employee with social media access loses their device.
Not paying attention to an organization’s social media accounts may seem harmless at first, or even preferable compared to engaging in use that might seem risky. However, being inattentive to social media can bring its own risks. For example, a social media account that becomes hacked could start spreading harmful fraudulent messages or viruses, causing much more harm if it is not caught immediately.
Keep a close eye on all social media accounts—even if you only created them to reserve your brand’s handle and don’t intend to use them in the near future—and be ready to act if one of them becomes compromised.
MALWARE ATTACKS AND HACKING
Even when exercising proper social media security tactics, there is always the possibility that your accounts will become compromised through sophisticated malware attacks and hacking. After all, unlike your organization and employees, hackers are not limited to the five-day workweek to carry out their plans and could strike at any time.
Invest in security technology to watch your social media accounts 24 hours a day, and have a person in charge who will be able to receive alerts and respond to them as soon as a problem is detected.
Contact Reith & Associates Insurance and Financial Services Limited today at 519-631-3862 to learn more about social media security.