Writing about your weekend on social media may seem like a great idea, but do you really know who is reading it? We’re in an age where a large amount of the global population posts something about their lives, or even daily lives, on some sort of social media. Some of us even have jobs built around the thing. It’s true, just look at what we do for a living. But how safe are these spaces? What can you do to protect yourself from those that would take advantage of your personal social media accounts, or even your business profiles? And why are we talking about this in the first place? 

Twitter Loves Bitcoin

On 15/07/2020, famed inventor, entrepreneur and tech aficionado Elon Musk posted the following on Twitter:

A screenshot of a tweet from Elon Musk's account. The tweet reads: "I am giving back to the community. All Bitcoin sent to the address below will be doubled."

He’s spoken about cryptocurrencies before, voicing his concerns and opinions on several varieties. Elon has even joked about other cryptocurrencies on Twitter, such as Dogecoin, so this tweet didn’t seem too out of the ordinary. He’s known for sharp, often witty out-of-the-blue comments on Twitter, so those with hands in the Bitcoin pie would be forgiven for jumping at this chance. 

However, it seems that Elon Musk wasn’t the only person feeling generous that day. Bill Gates, Barack Obama and Kanye West all posted the same thing. It was the result of a scam by a currently unknown individual or group, who has estimated to have made around £80,000. More details are available in this article from the BBC, but it appears the attack was “charitable” in nature, though the accounts containing the funds have been locked. 

It’s an updated version of the classic identity scam. You know the one, an important person/business will contact you with an urgent enquiry, but they need you to send them money. You’re promised financial reward for doing so, but in reality, you’re just fattening the scammer’s pockets. The difference, in this case, was that these accounts were high-profile, verified individuals with millions of follows. If you can’t trust the verified tick next to a user’s name, what can you trust? 

Social Media and Security

The classic statement, “if it’s too good to be true, it probably is” applies here. You shouldn’t send strangers money either, which seems obvious on paper, but celebrities and influencers tell us about their lives on a daily basis. It’s arguable that you may know more about your favourite celebrity than you do about some of your own family members. Even Graham from down the street tells me when he’s going to go out for the weekend, and I don’t even know the guy. If you wouldn’t say it or do it in a crowded room, you probably shouldn’t post about it on a social media platform either. This also applies to your business, though there are steps to take to ensure this doesn’t happen to you.  

An Easy Mistake to Make

People make mistakes, that’s just a fact of life. According to Kaspersky, a well-known provider of cybersecurity solutions, 52% of businesses admit that employees are their biggest weakness in IT security. The biggest fear among these businesses? The inappropriate sharing of data via a mobile device. Clicking a big blue download link on a social media messaging platform might sound like a good idea, but only do it if it’s from a trusted source, and even then, check with the person that sent it first. 

That’s not the only thing to look out for. Even a simple “which Powerpuff Girl are you?” quiz could compromise security. The last time I checked, the Powerpuff Girls didn’t need access to company login details. Giving these quizzes access to your favourite colour or family pet might make your business vulnerable to hacking issues. A company policy of diligence regarding these aspects of social media should be promoted in order to give you the best chance of avoiding a costly mistake. 

Check Your Privacy Settings

It’s a personal account for a reason, but a large proportion of social media users want to post for the world to see, and that’s fine too. However, the best course of action for a secure social media account is a thorough examination of your privacy settings. Each platform offers different options, but there are a few things that you may not be aware of: 

  • Did you know that Facebook lists your personal profile on Google by default? 
  • Did you know that people can search for you on Facebook via your email address? 
  • Did you know that Twitter shares your data with third-party platforms unless you disable the option?
  • Did you know that LinkedIn shows other users if you visited their profile unless you change this option in your settings? 

Take 10 minutes of your day to scan your settings and change the ones you feel are necessary. It promotes a secure environment for yourself and your business. 

Monitor Third-Party Platforms and Plugins

Third-party platforms can be exceptionally useful. Whether you’re using Hootsuite to monitor your social media posts in one place, or scheduling content using SEM Rush, these tools help save time if your business uses multiple social networks. While the two above are industry recognised, they do cost money if you require access to specific features, which a lot of businesses need. Many people scour the web for free alternatives, which are often unknown to the wider community. This poses a risk. 

According to Wordfence, a well-known WordPress Firewall Plugin provider,  almost 1 million WordPress sites were targeted in an attack during May 2020, with the majority of attacks occurring due to outdated third-party plugins. If you’re using social media plugins or platforms that don’t come directly from the source, make sure to keep them up to date. You can also look at reviews or search the plugin name on Google or your preferred search engine of choice before you install it, just to be safe. 

Create a Positive Social Media Policy 

If you manage a large group of people, or if your business employs people from multiple locations, a social media policy is a must. This should outline the do’s and don’ts of using social media while in your place of work, or during the hours of employment. It should also cover speaking about your business in general and who is responsible for managing what aspect of your social media presence within your place of work. 

If you’re struggling to create one yourself, Hootsuite provides a free guide and template to get the ball rolling. However, you should make it specific to your organisation. Remember those quizzes we talked about earlier? Make sure they’re in there too. 

Communication is Key

This may sound cliche but in order to ensure that your social media profiles are truly secure in a business environment, you need to talk to your team(s) about it. Creating a policy is one thing, but it’s no use if no one reads it. Let people in your organisation know of a point of contact for social media concerns, and there’s less likely to be an issue in the future 

That being said, when it’s the platforms themselves that have the vulnerability, as is the case with the Twitter fiasco mentioned earlier, there’s not much you can do about it. Being on social media carries with it a level of responsibility, especially if your profiles and all their content are given freely to the general public. If you are, act as if you’re speaking to the world, because you might as well be. 

Hire an Agency

If social media management is a task not worth taking in your eyes,  hire an agency to do it for you. The team at Colewood are well-versed in social media best practices and are happy to advise on both privacy and security concerns if necessary. We provide social media services on all platforms, with our expertise focused on Facebook management and advertising. Contact our team with your questions and we’ll happily help with whatever is needed. 

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