SCORE

Social media reach continues to grow. There are 3.484 billion active social media users as of January 2019, a 9% increase from 2018. This reach and influence is one of social media’s characteristic features, making it useful for more than connecting with old friends and colleagues, and has long had commercial and business functions. 

This overlapping use of social media has been described to have blurred the divide between professional and personal, at least in the online world. Organizations share their expertise through selected employee accounts to have a more approachable image. Individuals stay active on social media as it can be essential to their jobs.

However, despite the convenience this connectivity affords, social media does raise security and privacy risks for small businesses.

Here are some of these security threats faced today:

People

Social media use, especially in the context of an organization, is understandably difficult to control as it can be a very personal activity and it's simply too easy for any individual to share information to the public. A careless post or a missent message can be the catalyst for a major data breach. Cybercriminals can even use personal information available on most social media accounts to impersonate employees, and then gain access to a restricted database or network.

Fake news and social media accounts

The propagation of fake news affects both individuals and organizations, skewing views and opinions with the wrong information. Fake accounts can also be used to discredit personalities or spread malicious files and links.

Phishing

Cybercriminals use social media to obtain users’ sensitive data and have them click on malicious links. People are less likely to have their guard up when using social media compared to email. In addition, phishing scams can be tailored to a user’s interests using the information already available on a public social media profile.

Malware

Similar to phishing attacks, cybercriminals can use social media to distribute malware. Links, messages, and posts usually come from a trusted source, a friend, or a respected celebrity; sources a user most likely chose to follow. Malware can also be propagated through direct messages from various messaging applications.

Spam

Social media proves useful for spammers. A spammer can create a fake account that they can use to start a spam campaign. As with emails, spammers can also hack into an actual account and hijack it to spread its messages and posts.

Securing social media

Just as these threats are more potent because of today’s connectivity, a more connected and collaborative approach to security is a good direction to take for a safer enterprise. Here are a few things organizations can do to secure social media and their businesses:

Know how your organization uses social media.

Knowing which platforms your organization benefits from the most can help pinpoint which platforms you need to secure. This protects not only your organization but also those who visit your pages and profiles.

Train employees on best practices for social media use and other relevant cybersecurity techniques.

Provide social media security training and guidance to all members of the organization

Practice good password hygiene and enable Two-Factor Authentication.

Most social media platforms add the option of using two-factor authentication, which organizations and individuals alike should use. These simple measures add an extra layer of security that prevents unauthorized parties from accessing social media accounts.

Employ strong security solutions.

A security solution can protect the organization's accounts and network from attacks like malware, phishing campaigns, malicious URLs, and other evolving threats.

Expanding organization security

Organizations can also strengthen security by expanding their defenses beyond company borders and influencing their employees, customers, and even third-party business partners to take a more cooperative approach to social media security. After all, an active view of cybersecurity and privacy not only protects an enterprise from threats but also promotes the brand’s reputation and encourages customer trust.

About the Author(s)

Bridget Weston

Bridget Weston is the Acting CEO of the SCORE Association, where she provides executive leadership and works directly and collaboratively with the Board of Directors to establish the vision and direction of SCORE.

Acting CEO, SCORE
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