November 10, 2014
Even the most effective and useful tools can present dangers for your company. Take social media, for example. Businesses can now connect with and reach out to their customers in a manner never before imagined a couple decades ago. This open line of communication can lead to nearly endless possibilities for product creation and improving the customer experience. But with all those benefits come certain dangers that can threaten a company’s most sensitive information. Security threats on social media continue to grow, and if your business doesn’t know about them, you won’t be able to overcome these challenges.
You and your employees may enjoy connecting with friends, relatives, and professional associates on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, but there are dangers lurking on those social media pages you need to be aware of. Social engineering scams are a particular concern. With these scams, attackers present a post intended to get the target user to click on a link. That link usually leads to the user downloading some malicious code that has the potential to steal information on the user’s computer or mobile device. These scams are sometimes also called phishing and baiting, as well as click-jacking. Whatever they’re called, just know that not every post on social media is safe to click on. You should take special care to treat every link with suspicion, especially those that look like click bait.
Thanks to the spread of bring your own device (BYOD) policies, workers are more likely to use their own mobile devices at work. While this is more convenient and can lead to more productivity, it also has the potential to compromise your company’s IT security. Employees use apps on their phones all the time, but some apps contain hidden malware that gets downloaded onto the device and could reveal private information about the user or their company if data is stored there. Malware may also destroy sensitive data, transmit that data to another party, or infect other devices or even the company’s network itself. When using personal devices at work, make sure they are always protected with anti-virus software and malware detection.
Social Network Shortfalls
Several years ago, the security lapses on major social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter were considerable. Luckily some advances have been made in the area of security across most of social media, but that doesn’t mean each site is perfect. Hackers are still able to gain access to these sites and potentially steal any information on your social media account. Employees should know not to share or store data about the company on social media. Those who think that social media is just as secure as some on-site storage systems or those done by a cloud computing vendor are setting themselves up for extreme disappointment.
Everyone has lapses in judgment from time to time. Those mistakes will likely happen more often if employees simply aren’t aware of the dangers that are out there. To prevent potentially damaging behaviors on social media, companies need to train their employees in security awareness. By knowing about the threats and the actions that lead to more risks, employees will be more cognizant of what they’re doing on social media. They’ll also be able to recognize when things like phishing scams pop up in their newsfeeds.
Any business without a social media policy runs the risk of increasing outside security threats. A social media policy ties in closely with the previous point, in that it outlines acceptable behaviors for employees that use social media at work. Social media policies also help businesses improve their security by keeping a close eye on who has access to the company’s social media account. Anyone acting outside of the approved list will automatically get flagged and allow the company’s IT department to investigate. Social media policies also require proper training for all workers, which will help them respond to security threats as they happen.
Social media can be extremely effective in helping businesses expand their customer base and improve their products. As with most things, it does come with some potential security pitfalls all companies need to be aware of. Once the security risks are recognized, you’ll be able to coordinate a precise and influential plan to maximize the benefits that social media provides.
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