Social media has drastically changed the way we interact with one another and social media marketing become an absolutely vital avenue for entrepreneurial expressionism. Social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn make it easier to connect with current and potential clients and allow more people to see your information in a shorter amount of time. Unfortunately, having an active presence on social media also inevitably makes you a target for security threats. Social sites are one of the most common avenues for malware infiltrations that could allow hackers to access sensitive company information or even post inappropriate content, damaging the brand reputation you have worked so hard to build. Fortunately there are a few simple steps that you can take to help keep your network and your reputation secure.
First and foremost, make sure security is a priority and train your personnel to protect your systems from the latest threats. Social media platforms are constantly growing and evolving, so giving your IT staff access to the most up-to-date information is vital. Help IT understand how to protect the sites the company is using, and how to ensure threats don’t make their way into the business through employee pages. A visiting client’s wireless device or even a few files transferred with a USB flash drive may be enough to transmit a virus into your network, so pay particular attention to internal wireless security. While it may seem that simply disallowing and blocking social sites outright would go a long way towards protecting your company from attacks, this is highly inadvisable. First, social media has so permeated our culture that people will inevitably find a way to access it, whether from their own devices or thru other means. If they aren’t going through a company’s protected channels, then their connection is not secure and they are leaving your company’s computers vulnerable. Second and more importantly, blocking social media also blocks incredible opportunities for your business, including competition research, customer relationship management, and targeted marketing approaches. Employees intimately familiar with social media can be a tremendous asset. Instead of locking out social media completely, institute policies outlining best practices, guidelines, and expectations for appropriate social media behavior. List what platforms employees can access at work and explain that downloading files from certain sites can compromise your entire network’s security. Help your employees not only understand which sites are disallowed, but why. If employees understand your reasoning, they are far more likely to follow your guidelines.
Also, take some fairly simple precautions to make sure that your network and information remain secure. Most social media sites come with privacy settings, but they are often difficult to access and remain inactive until specifically activated. Teach your employees how to set the maximum privacy settings, as default settings leave you wide open to attacks. Particularly astute users will even go further, using the privacy setting to protect brand reputation by controlling who sees what content. Finally, even though it may seem trivial and aggravating, generating strong passwords can stop a myriad of problems. Twitter accounts, for example, are frequently hacked simply because their weak passwords were easily guessed. Don’t use your company’s name as your password, and make sure that all of your social sites have different passwords so that even if one site is compromised, the rest will remain secure. Simply putting in a little bit of extra time to create a strong password that contains a mixture of letters, numbers, and symbols can prevent hackers from posting all sorts of inappropriate links and comments and driving away your business’s hard won followers.
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