Social media has become part of our everyday business lives. In fact, it’s hard to imagine a time when it was difficult to stay so connected with all the business contacts important for your success. If you’re doing it right, your business could be flourishing because of the ease with which you can connect with partners, vendors, and customers.
Using social media as a way to grow your business shows no sign of slowing down. The statistics just keep getting better.
According to Duct Tape Marketing, “There are nearly 650 million Twitter users, posting some 58 million tweets every day. Facebook is even bigger, with 1.4 billion users, spending 700 billion minutes on the network every month. In the United States, 58% of the population uses at least one social network, and that number leaps to 98% for those aged 18 to 24 years old.”
In other words, social media offers one of the best channels to contact JV partners, source new vendors, and build relationships with customers. You’re not only getting the word out about your business but also getting honest feedback on how to improve your goods and services even more.
Hidden Dangers of Social Media Marketing
Unfortunately, where there is prosperity and success, there are also criminals lurking around, too. The bigger and more successful a business, the more likely the dark side of humanity sends out spies to pry open any security vulnerabilities.
In the offline world, busy malls have mall cops and bustling department stores have to hire full-time plain clothes detectives to protect the business and its customers from thieves, con artists, and pickpockets.
In the online world, security precautions are equally necessary to protect against hackers and scammers.
As an online business, it’s essential to use advanced security software while growing your business.
While you may be aware of the importance of protecting your on-premise infrastructure, you also need security if you decide to migrate to a virtual and cloud environment. Cloud security protection is necessary to close any coding gaps. It may also be necessary to prove that you have done all you can to protect your customer’s financial information on file.
Reviewing Internet social networking risks, the FBI warn, “Personal information you share could be used to conduct attacks against you or your associates. The more information shared, the more likely someone could impersonate you and trick one of your friends into sharing personal information, downloading malware, or providing access to restricted sites.
Predators, hackers, business competitors, and foreign state actors troll social networking sites looking for information or people to target for exploitation. “
The FBI also warns that “Information gleaned from social networking sites may be used to design a specific attack that does not come by way of the social networking site.”
It’s possible to indirectly pick up malware while marketing on your social media sites. For instance, a customer’s post may have a link on your Facebook fan page that could lead you to a website loaded with malware that attaches itself to your computer.
There is also a human side to the security issue. Even if you’re using high security software to protect your computer, devices, websites, and blogs, you may still be vulnerable to sharing information in a post that could be used against your business.
Lesser Known Threats
While you may be taking the right precautions with many of the popular malware and scams associated with protecting your business, you may not be aware of spearfishing, a variation on the more familiar phishing scam. It’s a more targeted approach.
Traditional phishing scams often ask you to log in to a popular merchant, payment processor or bank.
They may not know your name and just use a generic salutation. They work on the probability that a percentage of their email recipients will have the accounts mentioned. When you click on a bait link, scammers track your online activities and steal your login information.
Spearphishing, by comparison, is much more sophisticated. The email is usually from the address of somebody you know, a vendor, business, colleague, or customer. The salutation will also have your first name or nickname. What you may not realize at the time you read the email is that all this information has been gleaned from your social media profile or interactions. For instance, the hacker may pretend to be one of your customers and ask for login help or complain about your product and demand an immediate refund.
Don’t Let Hackers Ruin Your Business
While the most convenient way of avoiding hackers and scammers who are exploiting the popularity of social media is to reduce your social media exposure or abandon it altogether, this is not the best way to deal with this threat. If social media marketing has been working well for you, it’s important to continue to keep your campaigns running at full speed. However, you should take precautions like using advanced security software to protect your web assets and train staff to be on the alert for the latest social media hacking attacks. Awareness about how scams operate is often one of the best defenses against being scammed.