Whether you have a business social media account or a personal social media account, your information is valuable. It is of paramount importance to strengthen your social media account security. It does not matter if you have 5,000 followers, 500 connections, or 5 followers. Your information ending up in the wrong hands is a powerful tool that can be used against your company or used against you personally. Social media continues to rise in popularity for businesses and individuals alike; therefore, strengthening social media account security is more important than ever.
Last year alone, famed names were victims of Twitter account hacks. Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and Jeff Bezos were amongst the targeted in a Bitcoin scam. This goes to show that no one is exempt or off-limits when it comes to being exploited by cybercriminals. We must strengthen social media account security and do our best to protect our company’s information and/or our information. Hackers will hack, exploit and use the stolen information against you. You must have good cyber hygiene and mitigate risk.
What Can We Do?
If a business uses social media, a social media policy should be in order. This policy should include (but not be limited to):
- Classes/educational courses teaching employees how to identify and avoid scams and cyberthreats.
- Chain of Command: If a social media account is compromised or other security concerns arise, the policy should indicate: who should be notified, who should respond, and how should they respond.
- Keeping software, antivirus and firewalls updated.
- Rules/Regulations of an employee’s use of company social media, and the company’s rules of confidentiality. Furthermore, it should be noted what activity should be included and what activity should be prohibited.
- Limiting the number of employees who have access to company social media profiles. This reduces the number of chances of an attack on a per-employee basis. If ten employees operate a social media account, that is ten chances of becoming a victim of a cyber-attack. If three employees operate a social media account, that is seven fewer chances. Minimize the risk.
- TRAINING! Train your employees on social media security and more importantly, on your social media policy.
Password security is constantly emphasized and for good reason. Too often people fall victim to comfortability and repetitiveness. Your dog’s name and your grandmother’s birthday are not strong passwords and certainly not for all of the accounts you own. Complex passwords containing numbers, symbols, and varying in upper and lower cases should be used. Moreover, you should routinely change your passwords. No one social media account should have the same password. You should not save your login information to your browser either. If a system gets compromised and you have all of those passwords and usernames saved, a cybercriminal can access your accounts within seconds. You should also enable 2FA for your accounts. It is a necessity to strengthen social media account security. Routine password changing, and security must be mandatory.
Social media platforms offer blocking as an option for good reason. An important practice to strengthen social media account security is to verify friend requests. Facebook and Instagram are both notorious for fake profiles. Fake profiles/accounts can belong to literally anyone. This includes hackers and cybercriminals. Do not blindly accept requests. First, verify and if sketchy or suspicious, utilize the block option. This also will apply to our next section: Monitoring Inboxes. If you receive a spam link or phishing link, do not skip the message over. BLOCK the sender and then REPORT them on the respectable platform. This helps stop the cybercriminal at their effort and can save someone else from future advances the cybercriminal will attempt.
To strengthen your social media account security, you must practice vigilance. Both on and off the platforms. When you are logged in, as mentioned above, monitor your direct messages. Phishing scams do not just happen via email. Cybercriminals will go above and beyond to disguise links to appear as they are from a friend, not a foe. By monitoring your DM’s and inspecting (not clicking!) links and whom they are from, you can be proactive as opposed to reactive. Do not blindly click a link. Check the profile and the context of the message. If it is indeed a foe, BLOCK that account.
Monitoring inboxes also applies to your email inbox. Monitor the email(s) attached to your social media accounts. Social media platforms usually alert you of a newly detected log-in. If you receive this email in error, immediately change your password.
This can also be taken a step further. If you receive a suspicious email/link from what appears to be someone you know, you should make them aware. They can then immediately change their password and fix what is needed on their end. You would want someone to alert you, so you should alert someone else of suspicious account activity.
Mind What You Disclose/Share
Less is more. This can especially apply to social media account security. Utilize the privacy options that are offered on these platforms. Hiding identifying factors for both business and personal accounts are key, or even making the entire profile private. For instance, a security question is the make/model of your first car. Low and behold, back in 2008 you posted a picture of your first car. That can then be used for access to your account. You have unknowingly presented a vulnerability that can be exploited. Date of birth, schools you have attended, interests, and mobile numbers should all be kept private. Social media platforms also offer security questions a user must answer before a successful request can be sent to your account.
Keep your browser, antivirus, and firewalls up to date. Do not skip the update or ask to be reminded later. Update as soon as it is available. Updates are released for various reasons, a notable reason is security patches. To strengthen your social media account security, it is imperative to keep your systems (all of them) up to date.
Logging off is such a simple task. Log off when you sign off or clock out. Do not leave any program or application running or logged in if you are not presently using it. It is a good habit to get into and can minimize risk.
Your account is your responsibility. If you strengthen your social media account security and continue to practice good cybersecurity hygiene, you can enjoy the benefits of social media knowing you are doing everything possible to mitigate risks. If you are a business owner or an employee, create a social media policy, educate, train, and meet regularly. Knowledge is power. Do not let a cybercriminal take your power by leaving the knowledge they need vulnerable. Strengthen social media account security.