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From social engineering to sophisticated profile hijacking, social media accounts face many potential attack vectors. This year alone, hacker groups have compromised the social media accounts of tech giants, national athletic leagues and streaming platforms.
Social media security risks for businesses and organizations can’t be taken lightly. A brand’s online presence is deeply connected to its reputation—a breach can damage customers’ confidence and put company information at risk.
Cybersecurity threats are constantly evolving, forcing companies to evaluate and adjust. In this post, we’ll cover the latest in social media security best practices to help you develop a security-first approach for your organization’s accounts.
As with most things, it’s hard to get anywhere without a plan. Start improving security by creating standards and procedures to reduce social media security risks and deal with any issues as they arise. Your plan should include:
To accomplish all of that, it’s best to clearly identify and document who is the lead person responsible for social media security. Whether this person is a social media manager or other lead, a dedicated team member can make a point of staying abreast of the latest security features offered by the tools and networks you’re using. They can also ensure that those running your brand’s accounts are leveraging those features and following the best practices.
This person will likely find great allies from other security stakeholders at your company, such as the IT and/or security team. Take time to consider and acknowledge each team’s role in keeping social media accounts secure, identify individuals who will be part of a security response team if needed and empower the lead to inform and leverage relevant teams proactively and reactively.
Much of the effort in keeping social media accounts secure resembles advice we hear about keeping our personal information safe. This means team members should:
Apply these general practices to every social media account for a security boost. Then, take time to make sure the team is informed about how to keep those accounts safe.
Unfortunately, many cyber attackers target the people connected to accounts rather than the accounts themselves. In fact, phishing accounts for half of all fraud attacks, and most industries are still vulnerable to personalized spear-phishing and spoofing cyberattacks. An informed team is a secure team.
To keep team members up-to-date, include your social media policy as a part of their onboarding, and conduct regular training to revisit cybersecurity developments. Many organizations, including Sprout, hold recurring phishing or social engineering training to help team members exercise their scam-recognition skills.
As we’ve mentioned, designating a person to lead social media security is critical in keeping up with the ever-evolving nature of cyberattacks. The information they track will be useful in team training. This person can also help decide who needs access to social media accounts and why, and they can ensure social media access and removal is a part of your company’s official employee onboarding and off-boarding process. They should create and maintain a list of all social network accounts and individuals with access, and review it periodically. We strongly recommend using a password manager like OnePassword or LastPass to store and manage access to passwords. This will keep all this important data in one, secure place.
If this sounds like a lot of work, you’re right—it is. Many companies turn to social media management platforms like Sprout Social to help manage their various accounts and increase security. These platforms make granting and removing team member access simple, and have multiple authentication measures in place to restrict account access to those who actually need it.
There are a number of ways that we help our customers keep their accounts safe. If you’re using Sprout to manage your organization’s social media, consider the following security measures available in the app.
The first is one we’ve already talked about, and it is something you can set up on an individual and team basis: two-factor authentication. Enable two-step verification in Sprout by visiting the security page under account settings. From there, account owners can also make two-step verification mandatory for all users. It’s important to note, however, that this important security feature is difficult when teams are trying to manage accounts natively.
Two additional team-wide security features are SSO and IP whitelisting. Utilizing single sign-on for Sprout is strongly recommended if it is something your team already uses for other tools. For an implementation fee, Sprout can connect your existing identity provider to the platform.
Using IP whitelisting means that if you have a corporate VPN, it may be possible to limit access to users logging in from approved IP addresses. This blocks outsiders from gaining access, even with other authorization credentials. Contact your Sprout representative for more information about IP whitelisting and SSO, and check out our security page for more general information on the Sprout platform’s security.
At the end of the day, the safety of your company’s social media accounts is in your hands. Once a plan and secure authentication measures are in place, the weakest link in the security chain is the human one. Stay aware of the changing cybersecurity landscape, and continually educate yourself and your team to stay ahead. Remain vigilant, and you can keep your accounts safe today and into the future.
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