How to keep your business social media secure

Posted by Beh Pui Mun on 29 Nov, 2021
View comments Social Media
A hacked social media account can do your business serious damage. Here's what you need to know about keeping your accounts secure.

Social media security.

The number of users on the various social media platforms is projected to reach 4.41 billion by 2025. The sheer volume of use makes it a good source of business leads, and most companies use social media to carry out marketing activities and connect with their audience.

Social media users worldwide.

Source: Statista

Unfortunately, social media security is something businesses also need to consider.

If you have a presence on any social media platform, you need to ensure that your business accounts remain secure. A security breach could have disastrous consequences ranging from financial to reputational loss.

Top areas for attention

Make sure you think through your social media security policy, and have a clear plan on how best to ensure the security of your accounts.

Best practice should include:

Account tracking

There are a multitude of social media platforms around, each offering unique features and advantages. Most businesses will engage with users on several platforms, and typically will explore multiple options to find which is the best fit.  This may result in a trail of accounts which are no longer used and get forgotten over time.

A disused account that gets hijacked may not get noticed until it’s too late. By then, the hijacker may have been able to do some severe damage to your brand.

Keep track of the various accounts you’re opening and use a password manager to store the corresponding login credentials like email, username and password. These handy tools can not only help you store credentials security, but often include a password generator you can use to create unique and strong passwords.

Once you’ve finalized the platforms that work for you, close unused accounts to lower your risk profile.

Conduct regular security and privacy reviews

Aside from constantly evolving threats, social media platforms also change over time. Schedule periodic security reviews to make sure your accounts are still secure. The main objective of these reviews should be to check settings, review new features, or change security policies if necessary.

You should also change your passwords regularly.  No matter how strong your passwords are, changing them from time to time keeps you much safer. If you’ve been informed of any data breach on the platform, you should change your password straight away.

Social media platforms are notorious for being targeted by data thieves. Hackers can scrape large amounts of data and this breach of LinkedIn data in 2021 is far from an isolated case.

Keep access up-to-date

Access to your social security accounts should be limited to those employees who have responsibility in this area. When somebody leaves the company, their access should be deleted and the account password changed.

Keep track of who has access to make sure changes are properly handled and up-to-date. If the access of past employees is not removed in a timely way, this represents a security threat.

Use a Virtual Private Network

Many smaller businesses disregard Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), assuming it’s something only a larger organization would need. However, VPNs provide a solid protective screen for digital devices by encrypting the data.

The need for greater digital security is even pressing if you’re using mobile devices and WiFi to handle your social media accounts. Wireless networks are notoriously insecure, potentially leading to man-in-the-middle attacks aimed at stealing your account credentials.

Many consumer-grade VPNs are suitable for smaller businesses, and these are generally reasonably priced. Always select a reputable VPN company and be sure to avoid “free” service providers that may end up selling the data they’re supposedly protecting.

Ensure adequate device protection

One way that hackers try to gain control of your accounts is by compromising your devices. For example, clicking a malicious link may install malware that could log and send data to attackers.

The best way of preventing this from happening is by using reputable anti-virus software, which will provide strong virus and malware detection and prevention capabilities. Examples of reputable Internet security solutions include Norton 360, Bitdefender Internet Security, and ESET Internet Security.

Monitor your social media channels

Running social media accounts is time consuming, and there are lots of great tools around which can automate your activity, making it easier to schedule posts and so on. While this saves a great deal of time and effort, it doesn’t take away the need to keep an eye on your accounts.

You need someone to monitor your feeds to pick up anything untoward, such as malicious links, misinformation, or scams. While some tools can provide a degree of assistance in this area, it’s always better to have an actual person checking regularly. It also means you’re more likely to catch negative-impact items early and be able to deal with them promptly.

Employee training is crucial

People are often a weak link regarding security, and social media channels are no exception. Always ensure your employees are trained in your company social media policy, security best practices and are also made aware of the industry’s latest threat trends.

You should refresh these training sessions periodically since new threats are constantly popping up. Ideally, your staff should know the key things to look out for and have a solid “reaction list” of what to do in case of an incident.

Beware of third-party apps

Most social media platforms allow integration with third-party apps to make them more attractive to a broader audience. These apps often provide additional features that may not be natively present on the platform.

Since the apps are designed and developed by many different people, they may follow different security standards. As with any entity, social media platforms are only as strong as the weakest link. An insecure app may provide hackers with the loophole needed to compromise your social media account.

One good example of this is the hack in 2020 of the official Twitter accounts of the Olympics, the International Olympic Committee and soccer club FC Barcelona.  The accounts were hacked through a third-party platform.

FC Barcelona tweet.

Source: Twitter

What to do if your business social account is compromised

How you regain control over a compromised social media account will vary depending on the platform. Most have well-established procedures that you’ll need to go through and which you’ll find on their website.

Contact the social media platform immediately, notifying them of the incident and providing any proof they may need to verify you as the legitimate owner of the account. The sooner you get in touch, the sooner you can shut down any unlawful activity on your account.

However, what happens next is just as important.

Once you have regained control of your account, your first step should be to change your password, making sure to choose a strong, random one. It’s a good idea to enable multi-factor authentication if the platform supports it. This means secondary authentication is required before access is granted to the account.

Additional steps

Review all apps - Ideally, remove all third-party apps until the security of your account is confirmed, and you know how the compromise took place.
Check all settings - Review all settings on your social media account individually to ensure no changes occurred while the account was out of your hands.
Check recent activity - Review all recent activity to see what might have been posted while the account was compromised.
Carry out complete device scans - Run a comprehensive scan on all your devices to see if any malware or virus may have been the culprit.
Lodge a report - Depending on which country you’re in, there may be an official cybercrimes unit where you can report the incident.

Final thoughts

The most crucial element of social media security for business is keeping in mind the greater responsibility you have to your customers. The nature of social media means that users get connected in many ways. While that’s an advantage for business, it also means you need to ensure users can access your page safely.

A compromised business account can present your customers with many risks, including fake information, scams, and more. It's your responsibility to do everything you can to make sure your account is safe and secure for your visitors.

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