The focus here on this blog is nearly exclusively about how to make social media accounts more successful. You’ll find dozens, hundreds, of tips on doing just that. When you do become successful you’ll need to think about building something else up: the security of your social media accounts.
As numerous hacks have shown in the past, hackers will break into the social media accounts of popular businesses and steal data, or just do it for the LOLZ, as they attempt to bring your account down.
You don’t have to just sit back and hope that your social media accounts are never hacked. Here are some proactive ways to protect them so that your business doesn’t look foolish, or suffer a PR nightmare.
Passwords are the first line of defence for your social media accounts:
This may seem all too obvious, but stats show again and again that people, and businesses, fail to create passwords that actually work. It has even been shown that the infamous iCloud hack (so infamous, I’m not going to bother linking to it as you’ve already heard about it!) of celebrity photos wasn’t really an iCloud hack at all, the celebs chose weak passwords.
According to Slate, there are 15 popular passwords out there that hackers can simple guess, while stronger ones are taken via brute force hacks. If your business is using one of these weak passwords below for its social media accounts, perhaps to make it easier for employees to remember it and log in, you’re making it way too easy on hackers: 1) 123456, 2) password, 3) qwerty, 4) abc123, 5) iloveyou, 6) adobe123, 7) admin, 8) letmein, 9) photoshop, 10) monkey, 11) shadow, 12) sunshine, 13) password1, 14) princess, 15) azerty.
If you are sitting and reading this right now and just thought “Oh no! This Marcus must be a hacker because he knows my password!” you’re wrong. You have a bad password, and you need to change it now.
Other passwords that are poor choices are those, which are common words. If you need a password that’s easy to remember, try one, which is a sentence, or phrase, rather than one word. How do you remember all the passwords for your social media accounts?
The short answer is that you don’t remember them all. You just have to remember one password that signs you into a password manager. It will store and enter all of your passwords securely. Here is a run down on a few:
● LastPass: I personally use this one. It helps create strong passwords, stores them, and enters them on the login pages of social media accounts when visited.
● Password Genie: This may be especially beneficial for a business as it stores all types of sensitive data, while still functioning exactly the same as LastPass.
● SplashID: For those businesses with mobile sign in needs. SplashID has apps for Blackberry, Palm OS, iOS, Windows Phone, and WebOS. A USB key fills in for desktop applications.
● PassPack: I once used this personally while working with a team of social media managers. You can login, see the passwords you want, and cut/paste them. A bit of an older system, but still functional.
Make sure that the password manager that you choose allows your business to easily create strong passwords, those that use random letters, numbers, and symbols, and stores and recalls them securely. All four of the above password managers can help you do this in some way, but LastPass and SplashID may lead the way in business applications.
Each social media account needs a separate password
Look above at how popular the words “photoshop” and “adobe123” are. Those who use these are likely Photoshop and Adobe users who are looking to create a unique password specifically for these accounts. They tried to create a unique password for a separate account, but it just wasn’t unique from the same idea that many others have had before.
This can be incredibly important if you’re the victim of a Fake WAP (Wireless Access Point), or Man in the Middle, attack. This is when hacker sets up a fake WiFi account, and users sign in. A business that uses public WiFi to tweet while at a conference must take notice of this!
Once they have the fake WiFi setup they can then listen in on conversations, and read all data sent over the unsecure line, stealing passwords. They can also require a login/password for the account. With this data, those who don’t follow the unique passwords advice above can be hacked across several accounts with the same password being used.
How can I protect my social media accounts remotely?
Those who are new to the online security world may not realize this, but companies have had the solution to remote access security for years: VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) have been around for decades.
The problem now is with perception as many think that a VPN is only for a big company with deep pockets and many remote workers. This isn’t so as commercial VPNs can now protect your remote social media access for a low price.
Using a VPN on your phone when connected to public WiFi, or on your desktop at home when you’re remotely accessing your work computer to do some social media planning, can dramatically increase your security online.
A VPN can be a pretty cheap insurance policy against having your social media accounts hacked. Can you think of any piece of insurance that will actively protect you, and cost less than $10/month? Follow the link in my bio to see the ones we review on our site.
A shared social media platform can cut down on password sharing:
To cut down on the number of people who know the password to your social media account, try using a tool that aggregates them in one place. These tools give you control of multiple accounts, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest from one dashboard.
Now you can give out one password to your social media team to log into, and eliminate the problem of too many people knowing how to get into the actual social media accounts.
Best VPN Provider Security Blog writer Marcus says, “You can try using: HootSuite, Social Oomph, BufferApp and SocialFlow. My experience is with Hootsuite, and it has worked well in a sharing scenario in the past. One password – many accounts. No one wants to think about insider threats – until it’s too late. These shared platforms can help you minimize that risk.”