Social media empowers businesses to communicate with prospects and customers like never before. At the same time, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social networks expose businesses to cyber threats. And today’s companies must plan accordingly. Otherwise, failure to account for social media cyber-threats can cause a costly and time-intensive data breach. In this scenario, the breach can put a business, its employees, and its customers in danger.
A clear understanding of how social media cyber threats and the risks associated with them is key. If a company knows the ins and outs of social media cybersecurity, it can prepare for current and emerging cyberattacks. Best of all, this business can protect against social media cyber-attacks and minimize their impact.
Social media cyber threats: what you need to know
Businesses use social media to share content and photos with prospects and customers from around the world. Yet companies may inadvertently “overshare” via social media. In doing so, they can expose themselves and anyone who engages with their social media pages to cyberattacks.
Research indicates cybercriminals use social media posts to target potential attack victims. Hackers also use social networks as delivery mechanisms for cyberattacks. Furthermore, they can utilize social networks to retrieve information about a user’s contacts, location, and activities.
Let’s not forget about how cybercriminals leverage social media to steal users’ authentication credentials upon login, either. In these instances, hackers can access a wealth of social media user data. They can even retrieve information about a user’s friends and colleagues across various social networks.
Meanwhile, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) data indicates cybercriminals generate approximately $3.5 billion annually due to social media cyberattacks. HHS points out hackers use these attacks to cause operational and brand reputation damage. Social media cyberattacks can put a dent into a business’s bottom line, too.
Ultimately, cybercriminals can use social media cyber attacks to access substantial volumes of sensitive data. They appear likely to continue to launch advanced attacks against social media users. However, companies that prepare for social media cyber attacks can identify the early signs of such issues. Moreover, they may be able to stop social media cyberattacks before they lead to data breaches.
Common types of cyberattacks, and how social media users can guard against them
To protect against social media cyberattacks, businesses must first define these attacks, how they work, and their potential impact. Now, let’s look at three common types of cyberattacks, along with tips to protect social media users against these attacks.
Social media phishing occurs when cybercriminals set up fraudulent social media pages that replicate those associated with businesses. Hackers craft these pages in the hopes that social media users will enter their login information. When this happens, cyber criminals will be able to use this information to fully access a user’s social media account.
If a cybercriminal successfully initiates a social media phishing attack, he or she can spy on a user. At this point, a hacker can view any information shared via the user’s social media page. Also, he or she can send messages and publish content in the same way the user would.
To protect against social media phishing attacks, businesses must educate their employees and customers about such attacks. Encourage these individuals to click on social media links or attachments only if they come directly from a business. Otherwise, if a link or attachment comes from an unknown source, it should be avoided at all costs.
In addition, companies should urge employees and customers to protect their social media accounts. People can restrict access to their social media profiles, which can reduce the risk of cyberattacks that lead to data breaches.
Cybercriminals can use malware to hijack a social media user’s credentials. To do so, a cybercriminal can provide a social media user with a malicious link or email attachment. If the user clicks on the link, he or she may download malware onto their device.
Malware can be launched onto a desktop computer or mobile device. It can monitor a user’s actions and record information about him or her, without this individual’s knowledge. Or, malware can take over a user’s device. In this scenario, malware can prevent a user from accessing their device and compromise all information stored on it.
Once again, knowing the source of a link or email attachment is key for social media users. If these users watch for suspicious links or email attachments, they can avoid clicking on them. As a result, they can lower their risk of deploying malware.
Businesses can encourage their employees and customers to download ad blockers that protect against malware attacks. Ad blockers automatically remove or modify advertising content on web pages. They look at web pages and compare them against legitimate ones. If advertising content appears malicious, an ad blocker will prevent it from loading.
Hackers can launch man-in-the-middle attacks to exploit insecure applications. In these instances, hackers insert themselves between a user and a website. They can then capture user data.
A social media man-in-the-middle attack can involve email hijacking. For instance, a hacker can view a social media user’s profile to get information about him or her. The hacker can use this information to learn about the user and topics that garner their interest. He or she can then send a message to the social media user, urging him or her to click on a malicious link that contains terms and phrases that align with topics that interest the user. If the user clicks on the link, he or she can be taken to a fraudulent social media login page. And if the user enters their login information, the cybercriminal can gain access to this individual’s social media account.
Businesses should encourage employees and customers to verify any social media page that they access is safe. Most web browsers have a lock symbol next to the URL, which verifies a website’s security. If this symbol is not present, look for “HTTPS” preceding the site’s address, which indicates the site is secure.
Biometric authentication for social media sites can be beneficial as well. It can be implemented on a user’s mobile devices and requires him or her to use their fingerprint to validate their identity. Thus, biometric authentication offers greater protection than traditional passwords to access social media accounts.
Help social media users optimize their security posture
Social media cyberattacks are ongoing. Regardless, companies can do their part to help their employees and customers guard against these attacks. Here are three ways businesses can help their employees and customers with social media cyberattacks.
Offer security awareness training
Provide security awareness training to employees. The training can teach workers about social media cyberattacks and other cyber threats. It can offer tips and insights to help workers mitigate such issues.
As employees learn about cybersecurity, they can share their knowledge with customers. For example, employees can provide customers with recommendations to ensure their online accounts with a business are protected against cyberattacks. Customers can then apply this knowledge to other online business accounts, along with their social media profiles.
Conduct ongoing cybersecurity audits
Perform a cybersecurity audit to learn about any security issues that can impact a business, its employees, and its customers. The audit can be completed by a cybersecurity expert. It allows a company to obtain insights into its security posture and what can be done to improve it. Plus, the audit enables a business to identify and address any security vulnerabilities.
Ensure a cybersecurity audit accounts for a company’s social media presence, too. The audit can help a business examine its susceptibility to social media cyberattacks. Depending on the audit results, a company can then explore ways to take its social media cybersecurity efforts to the next level.
Take advantage of biometrics across all business operations. A company can use biometrics to secure its networks and systems against cyberattacks. It can also incorporate biometric authentication to ensure social media users can access the company’s pages without putting their sensitive data in danger.
Companies can integrate biometrics into their mobile applications. They can also encourage employees and customers to utilize biometrics when accessing their businesses’ social media pages. Over time, more businesses than ever before can realize the value of biometrics. Most importantly, these companies’ employees and customers can reap the benefits of biometrics for enhanced security.
Prioritize social media cybersecurity
Cybercriminals are working diligently to attack businesses of all sizes and across all industries. They are increasingly launching social media cyber attacks to illegally access the sensitive data of individuals who engage with these businesses.
Companies cannot stop social media cyberattacks, but they can warn their employees and customers about them. Businesses that educate their stakeholders about social media cyber attacks can encourage these individuals to proactively guard against them. And this can help employees and customers protect their sensitive data against hackers.
Get started on teaching employees and customers about social media cyberattacks today. From here, a business can ensure these stakeholders can remain safe against these attacks long into the future.