Social media is obviously here to stay, and there’s no getting away from it. For many businesses, social media is an integral part of their marketing strategies, so it’s important to be aware of the security risks that come with using social media and take steps to minimize those risks as much as possible.
How People Create Social Media Risks
People, both in their personal lives and as employees and representatives of their companies, often inadvertently invite trouble through social media. For example, human errors, such as accidental tweets on Twitter have led to many public relations disasters for businesses. Another common event is people clicking on unknown links, which can lead to malicious software being placed on a computer, or personal information being stolen.
Not monitoring social media accounts is another way to create security risks. If you leave your account unmonitored, you may not notice any signs of trouble until it’s too late. An account that is rarely checked on is much easier to hack than one that has regular activity. Another mistake is not using the proper privacy settings, making it easy for anyone to access information that should be kept private.
The biggest mistake that people make with social media is not using some kind of quality computer security program, along with a good antivirus program. By updating these programs regularly, there are added layers of protection for computer users.
Minimizing Security Threats
While there will always be security threats with social media, there are ways to reduce the risk of issues. Most of those ways involve basic steps of computer security for both the business owner and the employees.
1. Create a Social Media Policy
Every business should have a social media policy in place, to protect both employer and employees, along with company information. While some businesses have completely banned social media in the workplace, this is generally ineffective, as employees will use social media, either on company devices or on their personal devices. However, you can restrict social media usage on business computers or mobile devices, by blocking those websites and apps.
You can create specific policies that address social media use both in the workplace and outside of the office. Remind employees that they should use caution when posting about their jobs on their personal social media accounts. Employees may unwittingly share information that can harm the business, help the competition, or even catch the unwanted attention of government regulators.
2. Provide Social Media Training
It’s up to the employer to train any staff in how to properly use social media within the workplace. One option that makes the process easier for some businesses is to use a social media management program, such as Hootsuite, which grants varying levels of access to specified employees. Show your employees what to look for, such as suspicious links and phishing emails, and make sure your IT staff is always updated and educated on the latest threats. Most IT consulting companies can help in this area.
3. Don’t Overlook the Basics of Security
Many of the same rules that apply to general computer security also apply to social media. Make sure you’ve invested in a quality anti-virus program for all devices, and use strong passwords for all logins. Also, protect those passwords. Only people who are authorized to use those social media accounts should know those passwords.
Don’t share too much information when updating social media accounts. There have been many instances of sensitive information being revealed through social media, and you don’t want to compromise your relationships with customers or businesses.
Check links to make sure they’re safe before clicking on them. There are a few ways to do this, such as by hovering over the link to see the full URL and making sure that you recognize the URL. You can also use link scanner software, or check shortened links for security before clicking on them. Do an occasional scan of social media for references to your business. This is a way to discover any negative stories that might be circulating about your company.
Develop a Plan to Protect the Company
Hope for the best, plan for the worst. No business owner wants to think about being a victim of an attack through social media, but the reality is that it could happen, so plan ahead. Designate your most valuable social media assets, and work out a plan in the event that those are compromised. Determine how you will lock those accounts down and regain control of them, and how you will mitigate any damage to your company and reputation.
Social media is now an integral part of most businesses, and it’s not going away. While there are very real threats to a business with social media, those risks can be minimized by taking the proper steps. It’s important to know how to use social media properly, and how to train your employees to do so, too.