Ever since MySpace, social media has been developing into one of the most important customer acquisition and marketing tools around. The ability to speak directly with consumers, for eCommerce and brick and mortar stores alike, has opened up so many opportunities to make lasting connections.
The sad thing for marketers is that as the value of their social media accounts has risen to them, it has also risen in value in the eyes of hackers. A hacked social media account can result in humiliation, and the theft of valuable information about your company and your followers.
How do hacks of social media accounts happen? Any number of reasons:
• An employee falls for a phishing scam.
• Public WiFi results in a data leak.
• Old apps aren’t updated with new security measures.
• Failing to use and update security software.
Those are four common ways, but there are others. For common ways that hacks happen, which you can fix yourself and protect your business and your fans on social media, keep reading!
Social media marketing safety measure
Password use is always firstSecurity experts have been saying this for as long as there has been security experts: Passwords, for the most part, are too weak. You need to take control of the passwords used to protect your social media accounts as a common tactic used to hack is brute force hacks. This is when a hacker uses a tool to simply guess a password endlessly until it gets the right one, using combinations of common words.
Here’s how to protect your social media account with a strong password:
• 8 characters is as short as you want to go. For added protection, I usually choose 13 or 15 characters.
• Use uppercase and lowercase letters.
• Mix in numbers and symbols.
• Have a different password for each social media account. If one gets hacked they won’t all get hacked.
The issue most people have is remembering passwords. This is where you can use some sort of password tool for managing all of your passwords. This frees you to create one massive password for the tool, I recommend an entire sentence, while the tool takes care of the rest of your passwords.
With the thanks to @felipedmes I was able to recover my account after it was hacked a week ago. THANKYOU FELIPE 😊😀😀😀😀— MC Collins (@DylanCollins95) April 12, 2016
Always update your appsEvery social media platform has an app which makes it easier to update, tweet, share pictures, Periscope, and reply to comments easily from your cellphone. While these apps are convenient, they frequently do not have the same security features built into it as the desktop version.
Most updates that you’ll get on mobile apps are specifically for security reasons. Once a vulnerability is found the app developers will get to work on fixing it. Once they have it updated they’ll send those along, but the last step is you have to actually install them.
Another consideration is to delete old, third-party apps on any phones used with the company account. These older apps that aren’t updated anymore can be an inroad for hackers.
Please retweet/like this for a follow back. I was hacked 😭 they unfollowed everyone.— ️️ Ronnie 2 Alonte (@ronniefied) April 12, 2016
Public WiFi is dangerous: Protect yourselfOne of the greatest dangers your social media accounts will face is public WiFi. This is a huge issue as everyone loves to connect while mobile and give live updates about the business.
The problem is that hackers know you’re vulnerable when you’re away from your place of business. Things like the Man in the Middle attack, where a hacker inserts themself in the unencrypted space between your device and the Internet, can result in passwords being stolen as easily as you’re reading this article.
How you’ll protect yourself is with a VPN. A VPN creates a secure, and encrypted, connection from your device to the Internet. A hacker can still try to steal your data, but all they will get is completely indecipherable code. I’d recommend one which is good for mobile applications as not all are built the same.
Terribly embarrassing!! So sorry guys! I was hacked. These messages were not sent by me!— MAREN MORRIS (@MarenMorris) April 10, 2016
Ues two-factor authenticationOk, let’s imagine the worst case scenario for your business as a hacker steals your:
• Login name, or the email used to sign in.
• Your social media account’s password.
• Even the security challenge answers.
But, guess what, they STILL can’t get into your account ...if you have two-factor authentication turned on.
As the name implies, two-factor authentication adds another step to your signin from new devices. This additional step is that you are sent an email, or a SMS/text, which contains another code. You have to enter this code after entering your password on a new device. Unless the hacker has all of this information, and your smartphone, they won’t be able to sign in.
Check out this list of social media sites which use two-factor authentication to learn more about your options for secure social sharing.
Sorry fam, I was hacked again, won't happen again #death— Tyler Ringeisen (@RingeisenT) April 10, 2016
Mobile security software still worksThere are still worms, viruses, and malware out there which can infect any smartphone, even an iPhone, or other mobile device. You can’t just protect your desktops and laptops within your business anymore. This goes double for those who actually use their mobile devices to post to social media.
A VPN, as mentioned above, is a great first step to securing your public WiFi use. Next, you should look into a mobile security tool which is reliable, well regarded, and easy to use.
I was hacked. WOW.— Julian Dolezal (@jmill26_) April 9, 2016
As you’ve seen throughout this article, hacking happens to accounts of all sizes, types, and on all platforms. Business accounts being used for social media marketing are made all the ‘better’ a target for hackers as they know that there is additional information for them to exploit. Protect your social media, and protect the future of your business's’ credibility online.
Marcus is an online security writer. You can find his opinions and thoughts on security over on the Best VPN Provider Online Security VPN blog. He is there every Wednesday with a new post, while you can follow @BestVPNs on Twitter for updates all day long!