Secure Social Media: Hackers Beware

Hackers are the true boogeymen of the Internet. They are even worse than trolls. Hackers use their knowledge of coding, technology and security exploits to access sensitive information. This can lead to identity theft, website vandalism, and many other big problems for both businesses and individuals. They also hack social media accounts in attempts to spread false information or ruin reputations.

In short, hackers can do a lot of damage. As many as 20% of all social media accounts will be compromised at some point. Yet, despite this risk, too many users don’t take the precautions necessary to stop hackers from gaining access. This includes insurance agents on social media.

You never want your agency to be a victim of hacking. You have enough on your plate without having to worry about your social media being hijacked–so read through the tips below, and implement these strategies to secure your accounts.

Limit access to social media accounts

Have you ever heard the expression, “Too many cooks spoil the broth?” That’s not just true in restaurants–it also applies to insurance social media. The fewer people have access to your agency’s social media accounts, the more secure those accounts will be. Depending on the size of your agency, designate one person or a small team of people who can access your social media, and make sure they never share the log-in information with anyone else.

Educate employees about account security

Your employees need to be smart about cyber security–and they can only do that with the proper education. Make sure your employees understand the importance of password security, logging out at the end of sessions, and how to spot phishing attempts. Make cyber security part of your regular employee training, so you know everyone in your agency is on the same page when it comes to keeping your social media accounts, and any other sensitive information, safe and secure.

Create strong passwords

Social media account security starts with creating a really, really good password. Too many companies make the mistake of creating easy-to-remember passwords such as “password1,” “guest” or “abc123”. While these make logging in easy, they severely compromise the security of your accounts.

Strong passwords contain both letters and numbers, and are long, random and hard to guess. And we mean they need to be truly random. It’s tempting to create passwords with personal significance–like your pet’s name or your child’s birthday–but those are easy to guess and will result in your account being compromised. Certain websites can help you test how secure your passwords are, so that you can be confident in the security of your accounts.

Change passwords often

Even the most secure passwords can be compromised. Therefore, it’s good practice to change your social media passwords regularly. You can make this a company policy. Changing passwords every 90 days is standard in many businesses.

Enable two-factor authentication

Many social media users aren’t aware of two-factor authentication and the security benefits it offers. Two-factor authentication is simply an additional way of verifying a user’s identity before authorizing a log-in attempt. Often this involves a security question, entering a code received via text message, or approving a log-in via a third-party app. In short, it’s just another step in the log-in process that verifies the identity of the user. It takes only a couple seconds, and doubles the security of your account. Both Twitter and Facebook allow you to enable two-factor authentication.

Use a password manager

It stands to reason: passwords that are harder to guess are also harder to remember. They make for more secure accounts, but also present their own unique security risks. An estimated 20% of American office workers keep passwords written down in plain sight. If you don’t want Post-It notes with your social media passwords floating around, you need to find a better, more secure password solution.

Password managers are apps that create and remember secure passwords for you. They are the best way to keep track of unique passwords for multiple accounts. There are many password managers to choose from, and this article compares some of the most highly-reviewed ones out there.

Be vigilant for phishing attempts

Phishing is any attempt by a third party to trick you into giving away your personal information. This can come in many forms, but it’s important to learn how to spot these attempts, and to teach your employees how to spot them.

Some phishing attempts will come in the form of direct messages or e-mails asking you to verify your personal or account information. Sometimes they will state that your account has been compromised and you need to verify your identity. These will appear to be from official accounts, and often they will include links for you to follow.

A good rule of thumb: NEVER provide your password or other personal information until you can verify that the correspondence is genuine. If you are concerned that your account may have been compromised, do not follow any link provided in an e-mail. Instead, log into your account and change your password. Additionally, before clicking on any link in an e-mail, make sure that the URL matches the link–you can hover your cursor over the link to display the URL it points to.

Check your post history daily

If your account is hacked, it’s important to catch it quickly. When hackers hijack a social media account, they count on the fact that any fake posts or tweets won’t be caught right away. Making it a habit to double-check your feed for posts that seem out of place will ensure that you’ll be able to spot phony posts before they can do more damage. Be prepared to delete offending posts right away, and apologize to your followers for the fake content. If you are sure that your account has been hacked, change your password right away and notify Facebook or Twitter customer support to make them aware of the fraudulent activity.

Insurance agents should never let the threat of hackers scare them away from social media. After all, it’s too great of a resource to waste! However, it’s important to make cyber security a priority when using social media. Following a few simple rules will help your agency have a beneficial and safe insurance social media experience.

By Mallory DuPuy

 

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