Beyond the Breach: Cybersecurity and Social Media

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If you’re in a regulated industry, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve been there, done that, and gotten the t-shirt when it comes to understanding social media risk. Regulatory compliance – check. Reputation management –  check. But there is one more shadowy figure not often discussed: cybersecurity. Even though security breaches aren’t necessarily associated with social media use, adding any element that introduces a third party can be a potential threat. In the wake of large scale breaches at JP Morgan Chase and several big box retailers, an article in the Wall Street Journal reports that financial firms plan to increase cybersecurity budgets by $2 billion over the next two years.

While the risk (and the price tag to avoid it) might be scary, it’s much scarier to avoid social media out of fear. Forty-four percent of affluent consumers engage with financial institutions on social media, and 90 percent of people would recommend a brand after interacting with them online. Avoidance is not an option. Your best course of action? Prevention. Having a social media policy and risk management program in place is a great start, but you also want to mitigate human error through password protection, controlling social media account access, and brand monitoring.

Password Protection

In August, Russian hackers executed what is probably the largest scale breach to date, nabbing 1.2 billion username and password combinations, and 500 million email addresses from 420,000 web and FTP sites. It seems so simple, but maintaining a tight hold on passwords can make all the difference. Here are a few tips to avoid password problems:

  • “Password” is not a password. They should be 6 to 8 characters, include a mixture of numbers and letters, capitals and lowercase, and characters.
  • Passwords should change a minimum of every 3 months, and after an employee with access leaves the company.
  • Only grant access to your social media accounts through a secure social media management tool like Gremln.

Social Media Account Access

In January 2013, entertainment company HMV’s mass layoffs were chronicled on Twitter by an intern who had access to the company account. Messages detailing the layoffs were sent to the company’s 70,000 followers before the marketing director managed to regain control of the situation, but the damage had been done. Rule #1 to securing your social media accounts is – Don’t share your social media passwords with your employees. Only high level employees should have the keys to the social media castle. With Gremln you can register your social media accounts and assign access to your team. Set permission levels, filtering rules, and revoke access with the click of a button

Brand Monitoring

There is no better way to know if your brand has been compromised than keeping an eye on your social networks at all times. Using Gremln’s dashboard, you can easily search for your brand name, hashtags, and other relevant information to see who is saying what. The sooner you know your account has been compromised, the sooner you can implement your social media crisis plan and regain control of the conversation – and your reputation.

At the end of the day, a security breach can happen just by opening an email – it’s a sign ‘o the times. But you can make sure your data, and that of your customers, is protected with something as simple as unique passwords. And don’t forget – having a great tool to control social media access and monitor your brand name is a crucial part of your risk management program.

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