High-profile social media attacks are not new. In 2020, dozens of celebrity accounts and accounts belonging to well-known corporate CEOs experienced disruptions. A bitcoin scam led to a stream of fake tweets, temporarily tarnishing reputations and brand images.

Business leaders now use social media for both business communications and personal projects. As a result of the dual use in relation to single accounts, social media security is more important than ever before.

Could you experience account compromise?  If you were to experience account compromise, would you be able to spot the initial signs of an attack?

Signs of social media attacks

  • Alterations to your name, profile image or email address (or that of your organization).
  • Friend requests from unknown individuals with dubious profile photos or handles.
  • Passwords that are no longer functional and unexpected reset prompts.
  • Suspicious Twitter account followers and corresponding suspicious behavior.

How to avoid social media attacks

  1. Close unused accounts. Do you or does your organization have social media accounts that remain unused? If so, they can represent prime platforms for attack by cyber criminals, who may attempt to send or post fraudulent content on your behalf. Alternatively, hackers may leverage little-used accounts to send out email content that appears to come from your organization. Inside of these emails, hackers may include malicious links. Your customers and customer relationships may suffer as a result.
  2. Beware of impostor accounts. Social media scammers can quickly and easily create social media accounts that impersonate legitimate accounts. To prevent this, you can get verified on social networks. In a transparency report from LinkedIn, the company removed 21.6 million fake accounts within a six month window. Although a large number of these accounts were disabled at the registration stage, over 67,000 accounts appeared on the site and were reported by site users.
  3.  Avoid online quizzes. Chances are that you don’t have time for these activities, but in the event that you happen to enjoy them, know that cyber criminals often use responses to hack passwords. These types of quizzes can present business and personal security risks. AARP took the time to issue a warning about this to its members.
  4. Secure your devices. Ensure that you have spam filters enabled and that your mobile devices retain adequate protections.
  5. Check your requests. After receiving an unsolicited message on social media, determine what kind of information the individual may be asking for, and see to it that you do not divulge any business or personal details. Double and triple check both requests and potential responses.
  6. Consider losing the last name. High profile individuals on social media platforms can potentially avoid threats by adopting a “lower profile”. In other words, make yourself less recognizable to the average amateur hacker. Consider removing all or part of your last name from your social media profiles.Social engineering attacks conducted via social media represent a core component of cyber criminals’ toolkits. Making yourself less visible may reduce the threat. In early 2020, a wave of CEOs decided to delete their social media accounts to eliminate personal risk. Will executives move towards other radical changes to safeguard privacy?

A business executive is liable to fall prey to scams of all kinds -social media attacks and otherwise- in moments of stress or due to well-crafted scams. Ensure that you know how to protect both yourself and your organization from social media attacks.

For more information about cyber attacks and social media attacks likely to affect a business executive, click here.