June 5, 2024

Navigating Social Media Security: Protecting a Business Against Cyber Risks

Social media attacks are on the rise. Learn best practices for protecting a business (and a business’ employees) from bad actors.

In today's interconnected landscape, social media platforms have become indispensable tools for businesses, facilitating customer engagement, brand promotion, and growth. However, alongside the numerous benefits come significant social media security risks, posing serious threats to businesses. From data breaches and account hijacking to reputational damage and regulatory compliance issues, the risks associated with social media platforms are diverse and necessitate proactive risk management. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC), social media account takeover is increasingly prevalent.

In this article, we'll delve into the various social media security risks and outline best practices for securing business social media accounts. We'll also emphasize the importance of employee training in social media security and explore security considerations regarding data privacy and user information.

Cybersecurity Risks Associated with Social Media Platforms

Social media platforms pose various cybersecurity risks that can impact businesses across different sectors and sizes. These risks can fall into several categories:

Account Compromise

Threat actors may target social media accounts using tactics like phishing attacks, malware, or brute force methods. Once compromised, these accounts can be exploited to disseminate malicious content, scam followers, or tarnish the business's reputation.

Data Breaches

Social media platforms store vast amounts of user data, including personal and behavioral information. A breach on these platforms can expose sensitive data related to customers, employees, and the organization itself. This can lead to financial losses, legal ramifications, and damage to reputation.

Phishing and Social Engineering

Social media is often used by threat actors to gather information about individuals and organizations. They may impersonate trusted entities, create fake profiles, or launch targeted phishing campaigns to deceive users into disclosing sensitive information or clicking on malicious links.

Reputational Damage

Negative comments, reviews, or posts on social media can quickly escalate and harm a business's reputation. Social media platforms amplify the reach and impact of such content, making reputation management crucial for businesses active on social media.


Businesses are subject to various regulatory requirements concerning the handling and safeguarding of customer data, such as GDPR, HIPAA, or CCPA. Non-compliance can result in hefty fines, legal consequences, and erosion of customer trust, especially if data breaches occur due to inadequate security measures on social media platforms.

Employee Training for Social Media Security

Enhancing social media security through employee training is vital for bolstering overall business security. Training programs should cover several key areas:

Phishing Awareness

Employees should be educated on common phishing tactics prevalent on social media, such as fake profiles, deceptive messages, and malicious links. They need to learn how to spot suspicious content and verify message authenticity before taking any action. This awareness helps safeguard business social media accounts against phishing attacks.

Handling Sensitive Information

Emphasize the importance of safeguarding sensitive data when using social media. Employees should refrain from sharing confidential information publicly and use secure communication channels for sensitive work discussions, enhancing social media security practices.

Data Privacy Training

Provide training on configuring privacy settings and utilizing additional security features on social media platforms. Encourage employees to regularly review and update their privacy settings and enable features like two-factor authentication (2FA) to enhance account security.

Adhering to Safe Practices

Promote best practices for social media security, such as verifying account authenticity before interaction, refraining from sharing personal or sensitive information with unknown sources, and exercising caution when clicking on links or downloading attachments. Tools like VirusTotal can help employees check suspicious links for potential threats.

Incident Reporting

Train employees on the proper procedures for reporting security incidents, suspicious activities, or potential threats encountered on social media platforms. Foster a culture of transparency and accountability where employees feel empowered to report security concerns without fear of reprisal, crucial for improving overall social media security within the organization.

Data Privacy On Social Media

Ensuring data privacy on social media is paramount for businesses active on these platforms. To address privacy concerns and enhance social media security, organizations can take the following steps:

Regularly Update Privacy Policies

Organizations should periodically review and update their privacy policies to comply with relevant regulations and clearly outline how user data is collected, stored, and utilized on social media platforms.

Obtain Explicit Consent

Prior to collecting and processing user data on social media platforms, organizations should obtain explicit consent from users. This consent should be accompanied by clear explanations of data usage purposes and options for users to manage their privacy settings.

Monitor Third-Party Apps

Regular audits of third-party apps and integrations linked to social media accounts are essential for ensuring compliance with privacy regulations, such as GDPR. Removal of unauthorized or redundant apps, as well as revocation of unnecessary integrations, helps minimize potential security risks and strengthens social media security.

Implement Encryption

Utilizing encryption to safeguard sensitive data transmitted to or stored on social media platforms is crucial. While most platforms encrypt data at rest, organizations should collaborate with legal and compliance teams to determine their obligations regarding data security and social media. Embracing encryption can mitigate the impact of data breaches and bolster overall organizational security.

Social Media Security Best Practices

To mitigate the cybersecurity risks inherent in using social media platforms, businesses should adhere to the following best practices for managing their social media accounts:

Password Policy

Enforce the use of strong, unique passwords for each social media account, along with two-factor authentication (2FA) to enhance security. Regular password updates should be mandated, particularly following any data breach disclosures from the social media platform. Employ Federated Identity wherever possible to streamline password management and minimize the risk associated with multiple passwords.

Limit Access to Social Media

Restrict access to social media accounts to authorized personnel only, employing role-based access control (RBAC) to ensure employees have access only to necessary accounts and functionalities. Blocking access to social media on company-owned systems can also prevent inadvertent malware downloads from social media links.

Continuous Monitoring

Regularly monitor social media accounts for any signs of suspicious activity, unauthorized access, or unusual changes to account settings or posts. Keep privacy settings, security configurations, and connected applications up to date to effectively manage social media security.

Employee Training and Awareness

Provide comprehensive training to employees on social media security best practices, focusing on identifying phishing attempts, avoiding clicking suspicious links, and reporting unusual activity. Examples of phishing attacks via social media should be provided, along with guidance on simple security practices such as enabling 2FA, disabling name tagging in social media posts, and restricting posts to select audiences. Caution should be exercised when using public Wi-Fi, with employees encouraged to utilize secure communication methods like virtual private networks (VPNs) for connecting to company systems and data.

Mobile Devices

Ensure that company-issued mobile devices are regularly updated and secured, utilizing mobile device management (MDM) to standardize security measures across devices. MDM enables organizations to enforce security protocols such as blocking specific social media applications or remotely wiping device information when an employee departs.

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Whether you're ready to make a career change or just want to explore the field - cybersecurity programs at Bletchley Institute are a great place to start.

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