Social Media and Cybersecurity Threats

Nathan John
July 31, 2019

As stated by FBI in 2015, one out of eight businesses suffered a security breach which took place through social media and blew to the level of a cyber-security attack. Companies tend to neglect social media security assuming it is more of a personal matter and will not affect their business. By now, organizations should however start giving social media security its due importance so as to protect their employees and pre-emptively tackle any potential threat that can affect their business through social media.

In this article I will enlist some common and potential social media security threats which can lead to great loss to any business due to minor negligence. We shall also discuss how we can avoid the same.

Common Human Errors & Insiders

Regardless of the reason gateway data leakage takes place, the first factor to be taken into consideration will always be the insiders – the primary suspects will always be the people who work for the company and have access to the information in question – hence they will also be the first ones who are questioned. Usually, such an occurrence is identified by suspicious online activities like sharing inappropriate content or passwords or something that appears to have been done with no motive other than a malicious one intended only for individual or collective harm. Sometimes only a phishing link sent or shared by a friend or follower can lead to breach of data – quite unintendedly.

Social Media Presence

Companies make their corporate accounts on social networking sites even if they do not intend to use them in the future. Social media accounts, with the brand name, can help build a company’s online presence and also assist with eliminating any opportunity for a hacker to occupy this space with the intention to misuse it. However, leaving these accounts unattended can turn into a possible cause of trouble.

The repercussions of an unattended social media account, getting an account hacked, or a hacker creating a false account, are almost the same. These vacant spaces can be employed to share malicious viruses among your followers, launch a fraudulent scheme, post something to defame your business in the market, or share something against your business concern, and the list goes on. It is therefore recommended to have all social media accounts monitored while also ensuring any imitation is taken care of promptly and adequately before it can cause damage.

Unnecessary User Access

Uncontrolled access to anyone can lead to a great cyber security breach. This happens when companies share their crucial information, and credentials of accounts with everyone, people who do not need them, third-party digital marketing agencies, and temporary staff on contractual terms, or interns.

Phony Accounts

Even though, artificial intelligence on social networking sites is super active which can automatically identify fake business or official accounts, we cannot completely rely on them and have to be watchful instead to avoid a breach or any kind of loss, rather than being woken up to something of the kind one fine morning. Hacker set-up imposter accounts, with names very similar to the targeted organization, use graphics and copy of your already posted content in order to appear identical and fool the mass audience. If your business generates sales, they can easily get the sales by diverting your traffic to their platforms, or affect your brand’s name by sheer misrepresentation. Such accounts can also follow your connections and incorporate those into their own network while also attempting to extract personal or other sensitive information from them. So if we start counting the threats and the possible consequences – they are many and immense.

Vulnerability through third-party Apps

Another chief source through which hackers enter social media accounts or execute a scam is connected apps. Connected apps are typically made by third-party app builders and they receive all the basics inclusive of contact details and other personal information once they connect with your phone. These apps can be of any kind from gaming ones to analytical – in fact all apps do ask for permission as soon we install them, so they can access contacts and other basic information.

How can we avoid a Social Media Breach?

  • Organizations can introduce a social media policy for all employees of the company with a penalty attached in case of violation.

  • Once you announce a social media policy and it is fully implemented, the company should conduct frequent audits to ensure compliance and execution of the policy.

  • Restrict on-premises usage of social media or disallow it through company-owned devices or internet service providers. This will limit any kind of external sharing of information by keeping it within the framework of a single network.

  • Avoid sharing credentials of your social media handles with employees or third-party digital marketing agencies rather manage social media accounts through social media management tools such as hoot-suite or Buffer or other software. This software also give you the authority to add or remove administrators.

  • Revoke the rights and access of any employee who is no longer working for your company or an online vendor no longer employed.

  • Do not allow your staff or third-party agencies to connect with your official social media accounts through an app without your consent.

  • Critically monitor activities of all vendors from the front-end to the back-end.

  • Keep a check on the official social media accounts as well as any point person you have appointed on your behalf to ensure data security.

  • Do not follow back just any random account as it enables that person to send personal messages once you do that. And that increases the chance of receiving unnecessary messages or phishing links.

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