Recent research from legal firm Slater & Gordon shows that 20% of small businesses have had their accounts on sites like Facebook and Twitter hacked; with more than half of those affected stating that these hacks had caused significant damage to their business.
As with most things relating to online security, prevention is usually better than cure. So how do you keep your social media accounts locked down? Let’s look at 8 ways that you can improve your social media security today.
8 Ways to Protect Against Social Media Hackers
#1. Strong and Exclusive Passwords
Always use a strong password for any online logins, social media included; and remember that the longer a password is, the more secure it is. It’s also imperative that you use different passwords for each platform and change them to something completely new every so often. If someone who used to manage your social media accounts leaves the team, always change any relevant passwords immediately.
Why is this important? If all of your logins are the same, once a hacker gets hold of one login, they’ve potentially got them all. For optimal security, use a totally random password generator like this one and securely save all of your passwords using a password locker like LastPass.
#2. Protect Your Devices
If you use social media through apps on your phone or tablet, always lock your screen and protect access with a lock screen password or gesture.
Why is it important? Say a member of staff picks up your device or somehow it gets lost or stolen. If you don’t protect access, your social media apps and accounts could be compromised very easily.
#3. Log In with Great Caution
One of the main ways that hackers gain access to accounts is through “phishing,” or sending out emails that claim to be from a legitimate source (like a social media platform) usually saying there’s some kind of problem with your account and asking you to click their link to login to your account. Hackers use genuine-looking emails to try and trick you into using your legitimate details to log in to their dodgy site, effectively handing over your account details in the process. The best way to get around this is to separately go to the legitimate URL (e.g., www.twitter.com) and log in there. If there is a genuine problem with your account, you should be notified when you log in.
Why is it important? Social media phishing is currently a huge threat, so never trust an email from a social platform about your account, even if it looks really genuine. Always make the effort to log in separately as detailed above.
#4. It Takes Two… Factor Authentication
To really lock down your social media security, enable two-factor authentication. You may have been asked to do this before when logging in to something sensitive like online banking or your mobile phone account; when you enter your login and password, you are taken to an interstitial stage where you have to verify your identity by entering a pin number sent via text message to your phone or something similar. Provided that a hacker doesn’t also have access to any devices that this verification requires, you’re totally in control of the access.
Why is it important? Having to prove your identity with every login may sound like a pain, but it gives you the highest level of control and security over your account. If your password becomes compromised, you still hold the final key to accessing the account (though you should change any compromised password immediately, two-factor authentication or otherwise).
#5. Fortify Your Basic Defences
Hopefully this should go without saying, but always use antivirus and firewall software and keep it up to date along with your operating system. Do this for all devices that are connected to the internet.
Why is it important? Though using defensive software is good online security practice anyway, it can help protect you from any dodgy influences that might be trying to gain access to your data, whether that’s to install a keylogger or send you an email infected with malicious software.
#6. #TMI (Too Much Information)
Don’t share sensitive information about your business, yourself or your staff. This may include personal addresses or locations, non-work phone numbers, personal email addresses and financial details.
Why is it important? Sharing these kinds of personal details leaves the person or organisation open to fraud, identity theft – and in cases of physical addresses – stalking. Understandably, this one is a massive no-no. If you do need to share certain details with a trusted person, do so through a more secure and established medium.
#7. Take Control of Your Privacy!
Spend time with each social media account and familiarise yourself with each platform’s privacy policies. Get to grips with how each option changes your security or visibility and what measures are in place to protect users like you. Amend any privacy and security options as you see fit in order to maintain control over your data, your posts, who can see what and where. Check back with your settings every few months to make sure you’re still happy.
Why is it important? Because it pays to be conscious of what settings can be changed should you face a security threat or change your mind about an aspect of your visibility, and also to be in total control of what those visiting your profile will see.
#8. Exclusive VIP Access Only!
Only give social media passwords to trusted members of staff who need access to manage your social accounts. Inform them not to share the passwords, and also provide them with some kind of social media policy document which lays out important details such as security preferences and privacy policies (those above are a great place to start). This kind of policy document can also include useful tips for the account manager such as the style of language you would like your posts to use, what kind of behaviour is expected and what behaviour/language is considered “off limits.”
Why is it important? It’s key that access isn’t passed around willy-nilly and that those that do have access know the importance of maintaining the privacy policies you’ve put in place for each account. Guidance on behaviour and language also helps your account manager to “stick to the script” and provide a cohesive message across all platforms.Protect your brand from social media hackers with these 8 tips! Click To Tweet
What social media security tips do you feel are most important? Have you ever been hacked? What did you do to secure yourself? Give us the lowdown in the comments!
Image Credit: Jack Moreh at FreeRangeStock