Social media is almost certainly a hugely valuable tool for your business – but it could also prove a serious vulnerability.
Almost 46 per cent of all businesses have identified at least one cyber-security breach of their social media in the last 12 months.
A hack can result in the temporary loss of access to social networks, a loss of data, not to mention damage to reputation. But swift action, taking a few of the following steps, can limit the fallout.
What to do if You Are Hacked
- Change The Password to Your Hacked Account
If you can log in to the social account which has been hacked you should do so immediately and change your password.
Select a stronger password using upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols. Avoid using any information in the password about yourself or your business which is public knowledge and avoid using anything too obvious or simplistic.
Consider using two-factor authentication, especially in the days immediately following a high-profile hack. This involves a special code being sent to your smartphone after you have logged into a social network in order to verify that you are the account holder. It is available for Facebook, Twitter and Google platforms and some platforms allow you to toggle login verification on and off at will.
- Change The Passwords to Your Other Social Media Accounts
The next step should be to change the password to all of your other social media accounts, especially if you have used the same password. This is to prevent further profiles from being compromised.
You should always use unique passwords for all of your social media accounts. If you find it difficult to create different, unrelated passwords then use a password manager app to generate random passwords.
- Report The Hack
A social media hack should be reported directly to the social media provider, usually directly from the post.
If the messages or posts are offensive you will obviously want to take them down as quickly as possible to avoid damage to your brand, but make sure you have reported it first. Once it’s deleted, if you have no link to the damaging post and no direct contacts at the relevant social network, then it could be difficult to further report it quickly so be sure to report the hack first. Take a screenshot and save the evidence before you delete it from your feed.
If the hacker has posted or sent messages from your account, be sure to take screenshots of these too. This will help you when you craft the update to your followers or fans explaining the situation.
If the hacker left behind a threatening message, you can and should report it to the police.
- Check Your Activity Log
Find out when and where your social media has been logged into, in addition to everything that has been sent from or changed about the relevant profile.
There might have been direct messages sent from your account to your followers which are not immediately obvious, or you might have ‘liked’ or ‘followed’ other accounts when not in control.
For Facebook, go to the security section under the settings menu and review the ‘Where You’ve Logged In’ section and click ‘End Activity’ for any suspicious looking activity. The activity log can be found from the drop down menu on the top bar next your notifications which can be used to check posts, reactions, Likes and shares. Also remember to check your messages.
For Twitter, go to the device history section within Twitter’s “data” section in order to check the device, date, time and location of any logins. Then use the ‘Revoke Access’ button in the apps settings page to stop access from any devices you do not recognise as your own.
- Notify Your Customers of The Hack
Post an update from your social media account once you have reclaimed it, explaining that the account was compromised.
Ensure that the update is crafted by the right person or team of people. This ‘war room’ should include everyone involved in crisis communications on your social media channels and be decided in advance, ideally when you set up the accounts.
Depending on the nature of the hack and what the hacker left behind you may choose to apologise to your audience, but be careful not to admit liability.
- Preventative Measures
Work on preventative measures to stop your social media from being hacked again. Good preventative measures include:
- Setting up login notifications to let you know every time someone logs into your company social media accounts.
- Downloading antivirus software for your computers and using android security apps on work phones with access to the company social media accounts.
- Removing any suspicious apps, as these might have been planted by a hacker to give you a virus, leaving you vulnerable to being hacked again.
- Change your passwords on a regular basis, without reusing them for other platforms. You can use a password manager to keep track if needs be.
- If the ‘hack’ was from someone within your company, review your social media, IT and HR policies.
Steve Kuncewicz is a business advisory lawyer with specific expertise in media and social media law.