Spring Cleaning: Why Companies Must Spring Clean Out Their Social Media Accounts This Season

Friday, June 14, 2019

David Stuart

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Every year around this time, we collectively decide to open the windows, brush off the dust, and kick the spring season off on a clean foot. But as you are checking off your cleaning to-dos, be sure to add your social media profiles to that list. It’s obvious that social media profiles hold sensitive personal data but letting that information and unknown followers pile up can put your company, customers and employees at risk.

We live in a world where data privacy is top of mind, and in fact, this spring season marks the one-year anniversary of GDPR. Since the law went into effect, we have seen numerous cases of high profile data breaches making headlines. Now more than ever, businesses have an obligation to not only comply with data privacy laws but go above and beyond to secure proprietary, sensitive, and consumer data.

So, what can you do to protect your business, customers, and employees from data breaches and information leakage? Here are three tips for cleaning and securing your online data this spring.

#1: Clean what’s yours

You wouldn’t just clean your bedroom and leave the bathroom a mess, would you? Of course not. So, when managing your data, you first need to understand what online assets you own. Whether corporate or personal, start by taking stock of your owned social media accounts, domains, e-commerce sites, and any other digital channels where you or your company has a presence. Not only should you identify what accounts you own, but it’s necessary to review the privacy settings on those accounts. What are you sharing? Who can see your posts? Your locations? Your contact information?

One of the most overlooked ways of protecting your owned accounts is through strong passwords. You should have a unique password for each of your social media accounts, and for all accounts for that matter. The passwords should have a variety of cases, letters and symbols, and be hard to decipher. Be sure to avoid names, soccer players, musicians and fictional characters – according to the U.K. government’s National Cyber Security Center, these are some of the worst, most hackable passwords.

#2: Clean on behalf of your customers

For corporate channels, keeping owned accounts secure protects your brand’s reputation against impersonators, offensive content and spam. What’s more, it also protects your followers – which includes customers – from being exposed to that malicious content. As customers are more frequently using social media channels to engage with brands before making a purchase or obtaining a service, companies must prioritize retaining trust and loyalty among their customers.

To do so, your organization needs to, let’s say, “polish the windows” and be fully transparent with how the company will use their personal data. And with more state laws replicating the precedent set by GDPR, this visibility will not only be a best practice, but a law.

In addition, you should invest in the identification and remediation of targeted attacks and scams on your customers. This will not only help you gain their trust, but also provide them with ample protection. Finding and removing customer scams – i.e. malware links to social accounts impersonating your customer support team – will keep you and your valued customers safe online.

#3: Empower your employees to clean

Easy-to-use tools like Amplify by Hootsuite have turned employees into companies’ greatest brand ambassadors, particularly on social media. This type of promotion is invaluable to marketing teams, but whether on corporate or personal channels, employee use of social media must be addressed by security and marketing teams alike.

This spring, empower your employees to own their own social media cleanliness. By establishing and providing comprehensive education and training programs for your employees empowers them to learn the latest when it comes to corporate online policies and also social media security best practices. Traditionally, we find that companies have invested in trainings focused on email or insider threat risks but have neglected social and digital channels.

Don’t wait until next spring to clean again

Although it is best to incorporate social media security best practices into our everyday, this spring season make it a point to do a deep dive into your personal and professional social media profiles. Your brand, employees and customers will thank you, and your profiles will have a fresh glow after a long winter.

About the author: David Stuart is a senior director at ZeroFOX with over 12 years of security experiences.

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