The Small-Business Owner's Guide to Advertising Injury

Chapter 5: Social Media Liabilities: Your Employees, Fans, & Enemies
Part 4: Social Media Hacks and the Threat of Data Breach

Did you know that cyber criminals can use social media pages to hack into people's computers and steal their information? If your business uses social media, it is at much at risk for falling for a hacker's ploy as the general population. Social media hacking takes shape a few different ways:

  • Social engineering. Since social media is based off interaction, some cyber criminals will pose as fans — or even colleagues — in an attempt to lure you into a false sense of security. Their goal? That you divulge sensitive information that will allow them access to your network. It's kind of like a spam email that asks you to wire money to a stranger overseas — except it's usually not so easy to spot. The hacker uses advanced psychological techniques to gain your trust, and that's why they call it "social engineering."
  • Credential theft. Some cyber criminals try to gain access to social media accounts by figuring out your login information. Hackers know that many people use common passwords, and so they can target certain social media channels and try these passwords until they find accounts that use them. In fact, a single hack in 2013 compromised a total of 2 million accounts on Google, Yahoo!, Twitter, and Facebook in this way. Once a hacker gains access to your account, the consequences are endless. Perhaps they may start sending defamatory tweets to your followers. Or maybe they will pose as your business and try to lure your fans into handing over their sensitive information.
  • Malware. Social media is all about swapping content. You're likely familiar with the heartwarming (or tear-jerking) photos and stories that go "viral" on Facebook pages. But did you know that cyber criminals can use those sharable stories to trick you into clicking a link that installs malware on your device? Malware can allow a hacker access to the affected devices network — and your business's confidential information.

Though it may seem unlikely that a hacker would take over your business's social media account just to stir up a little chaos, it's not unheard of. And if they post false claims about sales or promotions, you may be responsible for following through on those promises.

To read how you can mitigate these risks, jump to the "Mitigate the Risk of Social Media Hacks" section in this guide.

Next: Special Section: Social Media: Getting it Right in Small Businesses

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