Cyber security and social media

 In Security

Many of us can’t let even a day pass without checking our Facebook newsfeeds, posting a Tweet, or sharing a photo in Instagram. But did you know that our reliance on social media can make you, and your business, vulnerable to hackers, fraudsters and identity thieves?

In some ways, your network is only as secure as the people who are using it. According to the Sensis Social Media Report May 2015, 32% of respondents who accessed social media did so at work.

Be careful what you share online

To get the most out of social media you sometimes need to provide personal information. However, it’s important to be careful about what information you put online and who you allow to see it.

Unfortunately, there are people who use social media to steal personal information and identities.

Although social media sites allow you to control the types of information you share online and how you interact with others, you still need to be aware that certain kinds of information can make you especially vulnerable to malicious acts.

Information such as your date of birth, address, information about your daily routine, or holiday plans can be used by criminals to commit identity theft, or to stalk and harass you.

Common risks for individuals

The ACCC’s Scamwatch website reports that, of the 100,000+ scams lodged with them in 2015, the financial losses incurred by Australians totalled nearly $85 million.

By the end of February 2016 the tally had already reached nearly $18 million.

Scamwatch identifies eight distinct types of common fraud. Many of them rely on direct social media engagement, on using information harvested from social media, or on using social media accounts to present a veneer of legitimacy.

What are the risks to business?

Business owners face additional challenges when maintaining online safety and security including expensive equipment, staff and sensitive corporate information. Online security is about protecting your information, which is often the most critical and valuable asset a business will own.

According to the Australian Government, online criminals are now actively targeting smaller businesses because they believe their devices are vulnerable.

One of the biggest threats to your network might be as simple as a password replicated between a staff member’s personal social networking accounts and office network login. If this password fell into the wrong hands, it could provide unauthorised persons access to your entire network.

Conversely, if the same password is used for everything, then sharing your office login with a colleague for legitimate business purposes could open you up to personal identity theft.

Protecting yourself online

Here are some tips to help protect you when using social media:

  • Regularly check your privacy settings on social networking sites.
  • Stop and think before you post any photos, personal or financial information online.
  • Use strong passwords and a different password for each social networking site; and don’t share your passwords with anyone.
  • Never click on suspicious links, even if they are from your friends, as their social media account may have been hacked.
  • Be wary of strangers as people are not always who they say they are.
  • Never access social networking by clicking a link in an email or other website.
  • Don’t use social networking sites that do not offer any privacy settings or that enable users to contact each other anonymously.

Protecting your business

Here are some tips to help secure your business online:

  • Make sure that your expectations of employees in regard to use of business provided internet and social media are clear.
  • Always monitor and audit access to the data from internal and external sources.
  • Educate yourself and employees to be careful about what they post and which links to click on in various social media platforms as well as received emails.
  • Include online security in your business plan and budget.

You can also get trusted service providers to manage your IT system and give you professional advice on more complex cyber security issues.

Image designed by luis_molinero / Freepik

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