Businesses around the world face a variety of threats on an ongoing basis ranging from competitors aggressively pursuing market share to disgruntled employees that fail to realize silence is paramount, and in recent years social media threats aimed at businesses have skyrocketed. At a time when technology instantaneously connects people from around the world, it should be no surprise that social media threats of all types can produce very serious ramifications.
When looking at social media threats to businesses, it’s important to understand that most aren’t aimed at causing physical harm, but instead harm to a company’s brand image, infrastructure or proprietary information. Additionally, there are a variety of social media threats that could lead to serious security lapses.
As an example, about a year ago I was hired by one of the largest financial institutions to investigate potential issues that could arise from social media, including security risks, and while performing an initial audit I uncovered something very alarming: A bank teller posted a photo of himself inside the vault with a stack of money. He checked in at the branch and was dumb enough to have his nametag in plain sight. If that’s not a risk to the bank’s security, I don’t know what is.
Another serious social media threat to businesses is employees either knowingly or unknowingly posting sensitive information on social networks. I gave a presentation on social media to executives from around 50 large companies, some public, and one of the attendees was the VP of Human Resources for one of the leading defense companies. She said one of their biggest worries was employees posting proprietary information online which can range from engineering students being excited about a project they’re working on and feel compelled to share to employees with higher clearance selling trade secrets or sabotaging projects.
The reality is that it’s much easier to monitor social media for potential threats in an attempt to avoid catastrophes as opposed to taking a reactive approach. Plus, being proactive can save a considerable amount of money in the long run when you factor in costs to remedy negative situations, such as hiring a public relations firm or losing a large contract.
In 2015 and beyond it will be critical for businesses to track social media threats on a regular basis to ensure the safety and security of their company, products, and employees.