As this article from How Stuff Works points out, hacking, where social media networks are concerned, is not the same animal as the common definition of hacking. That refers to using malicious code or backdoors in computer networks. Once in, these hackers set about damaging entire systems or stealing proprietary information. This kind of hacking requires a great deal of technical skill, coding know-how and super-fast keyboarding ability. Well if films are anything to go by anyway.

On the other hand, someone wanting to hack into your social networks doesn’t need much in the way of technical know-how.  As the article points out: ‘It’s much more of a psychological game — using information on personal profiles to win a complete stranger’s trust. Now to return to Twitter.

When Twitter put its users at risk

When we said that Twitter users were vulnerable en masse, we mean en masse. In early May 2016 Twitter had to advise 336 million users to change their password after leaving them vulnerable to hacking.  What happened? This article from Fortune.Com about the Twitter password software bug explains: ‘Twitter warned its users … to change their passwords after discovering they’d mistakenly stored them internally before fortifying them through a security technique that left the passwords vulnerable to hackers.’

Twitter’s chief technology officer, Parag Agrawal, blogged that, if users had replicated their Twitter password on other platforms then they must change them. Which leads us into what you should know about social media hacking.

Don’t make it easy for the hackers

Too many of us do what Twitter feared about their affected users: use the same password for every platform. Why? Well it’s easy. Nor do we, as The Next Web.Com points out, either understand or appreciate our vulnerability. We have no concept that hackers see social media as the best thing since sliced bread. It’s attracted long-time hackers and created new ones because it’s so simple. And we enable that ease for the hackers.

Most of you reading this will use social media for business purposes as well as … well … social. For the bulk of users though, social media is a place to be social. Most all of us though, underestimate the extent of our presence to outsiders. As a result, we get careless and tend to misunderstand or forget the following:

  1. The sophistication of the technology. Do you download games in your downtime? The type that asks you connect with friends? Do that and that you’ve established a fresh network to be shared onwards. Any hacker getting a foot in your social media door gets access to all those people too.
  2. Comment on retailers, restaurants and services and the hacker gets a key to your browsing preferences and shopping history. Yet still, so often, we fail to remember:
    • It’s impossible to completely delete anything posted on social media
    • Passwords must have unique qualities, be updated often and stored in a suitable password manager.
    • Using social media on public Wi-Fi hotspots allows entry to anyone using that hub.
    • Personal information is a diamond mine for hackers. It’s this data that helps them to put the personal touch on their phishing scams.
    • It doesn’t matter how much you control the privacy settings. Every single bit of information you share on your profile exposes it to the world.
    • Negative comments made about an employer are accessible to that employer. And you have no right to personal privacy.

Processes that can help

As a business and as an employer you must give serious consideration to what actions you might take to mitigate the hacking risk. Things to consider:

  • Educate and train yourself and your staff on best practices. Security has to be integral to workplace culture.
  • If you’re a business of any size you may need to get the staff you need to meet the need. Small businesses can outsource the support they need.
  • And educate your employees on how vulnerable their personal data is. Work on the assumption that the personal angle will pique their interest. Once you’ve grabbed their attention, hammer home that your concern expands to the group’s interest. Get them to understand that the threat to the whole is a threat to their own security.

Whatever your social media needs, Visually Explained are here to help. Drop me an email or call 07881628807 and let’s see how we can help you.