How safe are your social media accounts?

Today I’m going to play devil’s advocate and ask “how safe are your social media accounts?”  What would happen, for example, if one of your employees decided to run riot with your social media and post a string of unsavoury or malicious comments? What would you do if an online advertising spammer got access to your account and posted illegal, unrelated advertising? Or worse still how might you react if a malevolent hacker decided to take control of your account for their own devious means?  Have you thought how you might react or, better still, how you could put actions in place to avoid these unwelcome scenarios?

To help protect your brand against any of the above mentioned breaches, I recommend you take some time out to implement some or all of the following actions.   

1)      Protect yourself against rogue links

Hackers often plant advertising links on social media posts which when clicked on instantly activate a malware download.  Sometimes malware is setup to gain access to your passwords and sensitive data, so it’s essential that you have a system in place that warns you of these suspicious links in advance.   If you have Malware detection software loaded on your computer, this software will immediately let you know whether a social media link is safe or not to click.   Norton, McAfee, AVG and Kaspersky are some of the biggest brands providing this type of malware security. 

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2)      Use Complex Passwords

Not all hackers will be super-smart computer geeks.  To protect yourself against a more casual hack from an unauthorised employee or office visitor make sure you use a complex password that includes a combination of numbers and letters and is at least 8 characters long.  Needless to say, the longer the password, the harder it will be to crack by an opportunist interloper.   Also, on a more common sense level, don’t leave your computer unattended in a busy work space with your Twitter or Facebook account open for all to see.  

3)      Set-up Two Step Verification

Many social media networks now provide users with the option to setup an added layer of protection known as ‘two-step verification’.   Once setup, the network will send you an automatic text message each time someone tries to sign in to your social media account.  To complete the sign in, you will simply need to enter a one off number that is texted to your phone.   This option provides your account with much greater levels of security and is an excellent way to keep your accounts hack-free for the longer term.

If you’re interested in actioning the Two-Step Verification setup, here are some handy links for each of the major networks.

Facebook - Look for ‘login approvals’.

Twitter - Look for the login verification setting

LinkedIn -

Google+ / YouTube -

4)      Use a Social Media Management Tool

If you have one or a number of other people managing your business social media accounts on your behalf, you may also want to consider only giving them access to your accounts via a social media management tool such as Hootsuite.  As a business owner, Hootsuite enables you to set yourself up as the owner of each social media account and then give each employee administration or editing permissions appropriate to their level of responsibility.  This means the employee need never have knowledge of your business Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter or Google+ account passwords.   Hootsuite is a very low cost solution for smaller businesses with Pro versions starting at $9.99 per month.  This means even smaller businesses can implement this more sophisticated level of security.

Unfortunately, Pinterest and Instagram are not so proactive when it comes to providing two-step verification.   As businesses shout louder for higher security levels, I hope they will soon follow the example of the other networks.

If you have any further suggestions for making social media accounts more secure, please feel free to share them in the comments area below.