Social media risks for business

social media risks for business - Netstar IT Support London

Social media has become incredibly important, in and outside of work. Most people use social media daily to share photos and updates, connect with friends, and stay up to date with the latest news and trends. Similarly, many businesses rely on social media to help drive revenue and build brand awareness by attracting both customers and potential employees.

However, the importance of social media doesn’t come without its challenges. Cyber criminals leverage the power of social media to launch cyber-attacks and scams designed to damage your reputation or gain access to confidential information. In fact, new research suggests that one in five organisations have been infected with malware distributed through a social media platform. This is partly due to the nature of social media, whereby users are more open to being unexpectedly approached by new people. Plus, the ability to easily connect and share with others makes it the perfect place for spam and malware to spread.

This article covers the social media risks for business and how to mitigate them, keeping your employees safe online.

1. Facebook scams

With over 2.6 billion monthly active users, Facebook is the most popular social media app globally. It is also the biggest threat to business security and is the preferred target for aggressive spam attacks. These spam attacks often take over a user’s Facebook profile and post unsolicited advertisements or graphic and disturbing content designed to shock.

Commonly, these spam attacks will encourage Facebook users to click a malicious link. This will then enable scammers to repost the unsolicited content on to your Facebook timeline, creating a snowball effect of annoying and potentially offensive spam. If hacked employee Facebook accounts are linked back to your business, this could impact your reputation.

2. Twitter scams

Similar scams also occur via Twitter. Scammers will set up fake accounts which will follow people at random, often posing as an attractive woman to entice users to follow them back. If you do follow their account, they will likely send an intriguing direct message with a link that will allow them to post from your account if you click it.

These scams could easily become a security threat to businesses. There is nothing to stop scammers from manipulating you into browsing malicious websites or downloading malicious content that could take over your computer. If this were to happen in the workplace, the ramifications could be severe.

3. Compliance breaches

If your employees are running and managing your social media accounts on behalf of your business, there’s always a risk they might release confidential data. Communicating sensitive information could cause you to breach certain laws and compliance regulations, including infringement of trademarks and copyrights, data security issues, and violations of privacy rights. As such, you could be faced with hefty fines from the authorities, as well as the negative impact to your brand and reputation.

4. Damage to your reputation

Consumer opinions can spread extremely quickly through social media. So, you need to have a crisis plan in place to manage negative reviews and comments, as well as ensuring social media channels are regularly monitored. Likewise, employees could accidentally share something inappropriate that could be linked back to your business. Anything from setting unrealistic service expectations, to rogue or unprofessional messages, can have an enormous impact on your business and its reputation, especially if they come directly from your employees.

5. Third-party apps

If your social media accounts are linked to vulnerable third-party apps, they could act as ‘back doors’ into your accounts, enabling cyber criminals to access your information and share inappropriate messages through your social media channels. Businesses of every size can fall victim to third-party app scams, for example, in February 2020, FC Barcelona’s Twitter account was hacked in this way.

6. Unsecured mobile phones

Many of your employees will have social media apps on their mobile phones, some of which will be logged into business accounts. If it gets stolen, cyber criminals could gain access to your social media accounts where they can post malicious or inappropriate content, as well as sharing phishing and malware scams with your connections.

Social media risks for business: How to stay safe

Simply restricting social media access is no longer suitable for modern working, especially as some employees will need access to social media platforms for marketing purposes. Instead, we’ve listed below our recommendations for avoiding social media risks.

  1. Ensure you have a stringent cyber security strategy in place, with the necessary measures to protect your data and employees from cyber threats. As such, if you do face social media risks, you will have the necessary layers of protection to protect against them. Your IT partner will be able to advise you further on the right cyber security solutions for your business.
  2. Enrol your employees in cyber security awareness training to teach them about the potential risks they could be exposed to via social media apps and how to protect against them, in their personal and working lives.
  3. Enlist necessary employees (e.g., the marketing department) in social media training that’s specific to your business. Outline what they can and can’t post online from business accounts, ensuring they’re clear on what’s expected of them.
  4. Ensure you’re only using certified and trusted third-party apps that are official partners of the social media platforms you’re using.
  5. Make sure all your employees’ phones, whether work or personal, are protected with either a password, fingerprint, or face recognition. Also, for all work phones and other devices, it’s advisable to implement managed device encryption. This means that if any devices do end up in the wrong hands, the data can be encrypted making it nonsensical to any unauthorised users.

We hope you found this article helpful and can use the guidance above to mitigate social media risks in your business.

For more information on cyber security and how to protect your business, click here.