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Protect your social media channels from a hack attack

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Brands & Campaigns

This post is by Grace Cowlard, social media commentator for Neoco, an agency for social customer-relationship management.

What do the CIA, Lady Gaga, Fox News and Hugh Grant have in common? They were all recently hacked, and we’re pretty sure they want to avoid a repeat. Whether it’s an unscrupulous newspaper publisher or an activist group, the Internet is awash with pesky rogues of the digital generation, ready to pounce and bring down your brand’s hard-earned reputation.

The amount of destruction caused depends on a hacker’s motivation. “Hacktivists,” unlike serious cybercriminals, are usually low scale and low funded, seeking to embarrass companies, individuals or the government by exposing e-mails or contact information to make a statement or gain publicity. True cybercriminals, meanwhile, hack for payroll or credit card information or commit bank fraud, which are far more serious activities.

Groups such as the much-publicized LulzSec and Anonymous fall into the former category, taking advantage of coding error called SQL injection behind the scenes of a website. While LulzSec might have hacked the CIA’s website, many said the group’s efforts as “pranksters” put cybersecurity into the spotlight, providing a silver lining for the hacking thunderclouds.

So how can you protect your social media account against these digital fraternities? We rounded up eight tips on minimizing accessibility to hackers.

  1. Maximize privacy settings on social networks by enabling secure browsing — using “https” — and login approval on Facebook to encrypt and protect your activity to prevent others from accessing information without your permission.
  2. Become familiar with the Google tool “Me on the Web.” With a Gmail account, you can remove URLs of not only pages containing confidential information but also Blogger, YouTube and Google Maps content that might breach privacy.
  3. Beware of links such as “hAha Is tHIS you in VIDoe? —” They are worms and, once clicked, self-replicate to spread and infect networks.
  4. ZoneAlarm has an infographic showing which social networks are most secure. Facebook leads the pack, while LinkedIn trails far behind. Check it out.
  5. Log out of any mobile devices. If your phone is lost or stolen, you’ve granted immediate access to Facebook and Twitter accounts.
  6. Change passwords regularly. Think outside the box and Include capital letters, numbers and punctuation, even incorporating Shift and Alt key symbols for maximum security.
  7. Check third-party applications frequently, and revoke access of ones you do not use.
  8. If you do get hacked, follow advice from Twitter or Facebook.

Are you or your company concerned about security and safety on social networks? What measures do you have in place to prevent hacks? If you have further tips or advice, leave a comment.

Image credit: PN_Photo, via iStockphoto