The Value of Social media accounts
Like most businesses today your social media accounts are likely not a trivial part of your business. The last ten years have been transformative for businesses and nowhere is that more true that in the case of Social Media. Social Media tech companies have flourished and business have been in a mad dash to claim their place in this advertising industry. This has signaled a huge investment in terms of time and money. As with most things in life success is a two edged sword. If your business has a social media account with many followers than it stands to reason that it is no longer only valuable to you but it is also valuable to cyber criminals who want to compromise your account and use its’ reach to spread misinformation, malware, or to further other criminal goals.
Cybersecurity for our infrastructure has become common place now so why not also implement social media security. But how do you keep your business’ social media and personal accounts safe? This article will discuss ten ways to lower your risk and even a plan for what to do when your account is actually compromised.
How to Secure Your Social media accounts
1. Strong Passwords: Your First Line of Defense
You might’ve heard this a million times, but it’s worth reiterating: Use robust passwords. It’s not just about complexity, but length as well. An ideal password is a concoction of letters, numbers, and symbols. Go for passphrases that are easy to remember but hard for algorithms to crack. Many social media platforms were designed to be used by individuals and not business so it may be tempting for employees to use personal email accounts when setting up your business social media accounts. This is not the right way to go. Social media accounts and social media apps should be connected to business email accounts which will allow your business to gain access to social media passwords if and account is ever compromised.
2. Two-Factor Authentication: The Mighty Shield
A good second step is to enable two factor authentication on your social media platforms. Two Factor Authentication (2FA) isn’t a luxury anymore; it’s a necessity. This adds an extra layer of security that can be the difference between a fortified castle and a house of cards. Activate 2FA wherever possible, especially on accounts where you manage your brand’s presence. For many small business the barrier to using two factor authentication is that social media accounts will be used by several individuals. Using a password manager that also supports TOTP codes will allow multiple employees to use a single social media account without compromising your login credentials. Using a password manager with embedded TOTP will also allow you revoke access from departed employees.
3. Regular Monitoring: The Watchful Guardian
Appoint a social media manager or team who can constantly monitor your business accounts and account activity. Swift identification of anything fishy can sometimes allow you to thwart a cyber-attack before it infiltrates your digital kingdom. Facebook, Instagram and other social network website typically require users to create personal accounts to which business social media accounts will be delegated. It is good practice to give login access to that ‘master’ account to only the social media manager. Password information is the main target of initial access brokers (IABs) who sell compromised access to cyber-criminals. So using a password manager can help keep your login information out of the wrong hands. You can read more about how IABs operate in my article on Initial access Broker’s role in cyber-crime.
4. Educate and Train: Knowledge is Power
Educate your team about security threats and the significance of security. Include training programs that teach them to recognize phishing attempts and the importance of reporting any suspicious activity. One of the low hanging fruits in this type of training is to teach users with accounts to publish to social media accounts only when on legitimate networks. The work from home consequences that became widespread during the COVID-19 pandemic are still with us. The image of the nomadic content managers posting from exotic locations has affected how we view this type of technology. It can therefore be tempting to post while in coffee shops, parks and other public spaces using public wifi networks. The truth, however, is that posting on secured networks is part of the art of how to secure you business social media accounts.
6. Beware of Phishing Attacks: The Silent Assassins
Educate your staff to recognize and avoid phishing scams. Cybercriminals often masquerade as other users or trusted entities; ensure that your team knows the common signs and the steps to report them. Phishing attacks are the most common means of wresting access of social media accounts from businesses. The main goal here is to get those who have login information to click on malicious links that will install viruses or other malware whose purpose is to steal login information and session cookies. Session cookies are software tokens that are used by browsers to prove authentication. Once you have successfully authenticated your browser will receive a session cookies which will allow you to navigate to the secure areas of your business social media accounts. If criminals can successfully abscond with these cookies they can impersonate your login and move about the password protected portions of the site unimpeded. The danger here is clear. If we can keep users with direct access from clicking on suspicious links then half the battle is won.
5. Use Social Media Management Tools: Your Arsenal of Weapons
Utilizing your social media management platform tools allows you to not only schedule posts but monitor account access and activity efficiently. They also provide a way to post to multiple social media accounts at the same time. Along with that they provide analytics about your social media accounts. You can maximize their contribution to your organization by choosing a tool that provides additional security features.
7. Review Account Permissions: Keep the Gatekeepers in Check
We live in a fast moving set-it-and-forget-it world, but can have consequences. Over time many different accounts can come to have access to our social media accounts. We tend to do what is expedient at the time and seem to forget that changes over time. This is not a weakness. It is simply human nature. For this reason account audits and reviews are a no brainer. Regularly review who has access to your social media accounts. Limit access to sensitive information to essential personnel and review the permissions for third-party apps.
8. Keep Software Updated: Reinforce the Walls
A successful approach to security has to be multi-layered. You can protect your social media accounts when you take care of the security of your devices, and networks. Ensure that all the software and systems used in managing your business’s social media accounts are up-to-date. Developers regularly release updates that fix vulnerabilities which can be exploited by hackers.
9. Backup Your Data: Prepare the Lifeboats
Regular backups of your sensitive data will ensure that you will have something to fall back on in case your account is compromised. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Social media platforms are large businesses with obtuse procedures. Restoring a lost account can often be a lengthy process. While you wait for the process to complete bad actors are decimating your followers by posting inappropriate content on your accounts and causing heard earned followers to stop following.
10. Have a Crisis Response Plan: Mobilize the Troops
Prepare a crisis response plan. If your account is compromised, you need to act swiftly to protect yourself. Designate roles and responsibilities, and have a clear set of actions to take to mitigate the damage.
When the Battle is Lost: Post-Compromise Action Plan
Should your personal account ever be breached despite your best efforts, don’t despair. First, immediately change your passwords and report the breach to the social media platform. Communicate transparently with your followers – acknowledge the breach and inform them of the steps you are taking. Evaluate what went wrong, and update your security measures accordingly.
In conclusion, navigating the social media landscape is akin to sailing through treacherous waters. Equip your ship with the right tools, train your crew, and always be vigilant. The digital seas are fraught with peril, but with diligence and preparation, you can sail through unscathed.